The Mystical Power Of Word Placement

What’s This All About?

The power of where you put your words.

 

Why Bother With This?

 

The basic premise is that you can squeeze a little more emotional impact into your words by just putting them into key positions in a sentence or on a page.

 

It adds that extra oomph in your work that people may like, but may not consciously be aware of. It can never hurt to give your manuscript more emotional punch. However, power positions can also give your work resonance so that a reader is left with a lingering impression long after they put your work down.

 

How Does This Dang Contraption Work?

 

Well first let’s look at where power positions generally are courtesy of Elizabeth Lyon:

 

  • The first and last words (anywhere)
  • The first and last sentences.
  • The first and last paragraphs (in sections or in chapter)
  • The first and last pages (in chapters, short stories, and novels)
  • The first and last chapters (in a novel)

 

Me First: The First Position

 

The First Position is the hook position,  as in it has the power to draw readers in. To get the most bang out of your words, don’t squander it on empty ones like “There was”, “It”, “A”, “The”, and similar words. Too many of those can be repetitive and boring. Instead, the first position is more ideal for the big idea word.

 

Example a recent project:

 

Petals of red, orange, and yellow curled back to drink in the rays of the post-dawn sun like the paws of a cat at rest.

 

Here the petals are the focus of the sentence so they are pushed to the front. I could’ve started with the colors. Or I could started with the sun. Or an article like “the”. But if I had, it would take away from the effect I was going for and ruined the impact. This is the type of thing that you may want to think about when you’re writing.

 

The Last Of Us: The Last Position In A Sentence

 

The Last Position, I feel is at times more important than the first because it has two purposes: to clinch the meaning of the sentence or paragraph and to create suspense and curiosity that leads into the next hook.

 

I pay a lot more attention to the last positions of sentences than the first positions of sentences because creating that lasting impression in a chapter, sentence, or the end of a whole novel is crucial. This is the last chance you get to make on a reader, so again, you don’t want to waste it on little empty words.

 

Here’s another example:

 

Beneath their sandals, the sands stirred in silence.

Here we have silence in the last position. Meaning that the lasting impression that the reader is of total quiet. It ties up the sentence but also leaves it on a suspenseful note. Not every sentence ending can realistically leave a sentence with tension, but if you can your work will be all the more powerful for it.

One Word Sentences and Fragments

These are admittedly one of my favorites to use for impact. Short fragments and incomplete fragments, when used cleverly, force the reader to stop on every word. Their briefness drives up the pace, making them ideal for action scenes. Or dialogue such as below:

 

“I’m not…”

“Beautiful?”

Also bear in mind that they are much easier for a reader to digest than a long winding sentence. They are visual relief for our eyes. For this reason, we tend not to skip dialogue, action scenes, or short paragraphs. In addition, with less words on the page, the more likely your word is to be in a power position.

And in a one word sentence, a word occupies both the first and last position which means it has twice the power. Do not waste the opportunity on weak words.

 

 

Fun Friday: 4 Indie Sites To Help Out With Sales and Promos

What’s this about?

I know this isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun, but it’s getting rather late and I kinda wanted to make something useful (hopefully) for you indies out there. So I’m kinda forgoing the goofiness for a week to make something that hopefully you all can use in the effort to get your e-books noticed. If you have a traditional deal, then you can still use these I think but you’re probably going to have to do coordinating with your publisher to pull it off. I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.

The sites I’m going to post are e-book sites that advertise cheap or free books to readers who sign up by email. Each have different requirements so double check you make the cut before you make an ad for your book.

1. BookBub

One of the personal favorites that I’m signed up for. If I’m not mistaken, they charge and there’s a review requirement.

2. Pixel of Ink

They’re free!

But I’ve been hearing some news on them possibly shutting down. As of the time of me writing this, their website is still up, so I’m not sure what’s up with their situation. Maybe you can still squeeze in your ad before they close for good?

3. Ereader News Today

Still up and running as far as I know. And their prices weren’t too bad last I checked. ^^

4. BookSends

This one also costs. But hey, if you manage to make free book of the day then your book will be in front of 120,000 subscribers. Keep in mind though, if you do submit your book as free, then you can only re-submit your books as free.

3 Things I Wished I Knew About Revisions Before Starting

Hey there everybody! Gumiho here and I’m here to bring ya’ll more writing content. This time we’re going talk about the revising process.

Now I’ve been working on my books Vicissitude: Lost Earth and Vicissitude: Heaven Gained for quite a while and they’ve grown fat over the years as I’ve been revising and reshaping the stories. But being my first books, there was a lot of trial and error I had to go through and so many mistakes were made. So I thought I might share a few things in case maybe you’re on the cusp of revising your novel and need some advice.

1. Revising Is A Whole Different Beast Than Writing

When I started out writing the first drafts of my novels, I was so hyped on the high of creating things and getting through to the end that I was like a bullet train. Getting to the end of a first draft is no problem because it’s fun.

But revision…

Holy f***.

When I started revising, it felt like I was trying to navigate through a pitch black haunted house equipped with only a match and a stick of butter to do God knows what. Needless to say, I was lost as all hell and I was wondering if I’d ever get through any of it.

Don’t underestimate revision. It’s not the same of what you were already doing. It’s a lot of going forwards and going backwards to make sure you’ve covered up the gaping plot holes you’ve left behind for consistency and character development. And often times, my eyes felt like used dirty napkins because of all the fine-tuning to be done. It takes a lot out of you. Arguably more than writing a draft.

 

2. Interest fluctuates a lot more

I find it much harder to finish revisions, but that’s because all the initial fun of creation  and discovery is gone. Now that’s not to say that you don’t discover anything in revision. In fact, I discovered so much about my books now that I’m going over them again.

But a major struggle that I had was plowing on ahead since I often felt like, “Hey, been there. Done that. I’m bored now. What next? Where’s the next adventure?” And it got so bad at times that I had to lay my draft down for a while.

But if you’re having this struggle of staying interested here’s a little hack that helped me: brainstorming sessions with a friend. I’ll talk more in depth on this another day maybe, but here’s the TLDR…

My friend and I get on Google Hangout and pull up a google doc with different topics, ideas, or story problems and we go through and talk about each one.This process was super helpful whenever I got stuck in my revisions, but also it stopped my boredom and kept me focused on the project whenever my mind wandered. Even to this day, brainstorming is one of my most important secret weapons in writing.

3. You Don’t Necessarily Have To Finish A Pass Before Starting Another

I’ll fess up. I’ve abandoned a few passes. Mostly due to number 2, but don’t feel bad if you find that you just can’t get through a pass. I used to think that I absolutely had to finish one to start another, and that’s not true. Though…it may not be wise to not finish a pass if you have a deadline to make and people are counting on you.

But really revision is all about layering, cutting, and tightening. As long as you’ve got a nice neat story at the end of everything, the good news is, no one really cares how you got to that point.

 

 

Freewriting

Hey, hey, everybody! Gumiho here with more on writing!

What’s This About?

We’re talking all about freewriting today. You may have heard about it, but been on the fence about it, or maybe you haven’t heard about it at all. Either way you’ve come to the right place so have a snack and put up your feet.

What is Freewriting anyway?

To be brief, it’s a small free association type exercise that you can do at any time, any place, on computer, paper, or what have you. Usually you get on a blank page and just type whatever comes to mind without editing. And if you can’t think of what to write, you just keep writing that you can’t think of what to write.

Wait a minute…What does it do exactly?

A multitude of things. First and foremost because we are writers here, allow me to say that it’s a good exercise for generating ideas. Personally, I use it to polish my description skills, character skills, and other craft skills that I’m working on at the moment. Before a writing session, I open up a fresh document in Scrivener and keep at it until I’ve gotten to about 20 pages. Then I save the doc and shove it to a little time capsule folder for safekeeping. Once in a while I open that folder and prune it for ideas. I think I’m up to 13 or 14 of these 20 page documents now, which is more than enough to be its own novel!

But if you’re not much of a pre-writing junkie, you don’t have to use it for that at all. Sometimes, I’ve found it helps when you’re stressed or upset and you want to vent.

Who does it help? Should I use it?

If you have really bad writer’s block, I’d definitely recommend it. Even if you get nowhere, it gets your cogs spinning and more importantly, it gets you writing. Maybe you’re not necessarily stuck, but you’re feeling like you’re in a dry idea spell, or maybe you just want to spice up your novel, a character, a setting, or what have you.

Even if you’re not stuck on anything, I also found that a few minutes of freewriting helped me out a lot with my longer writing sessions. My writing became looser and the words flowed easier on days when I did it versus when I didn’t.

But I’ll say this too, freewriting is a great exercise and all, but if it’s really not your thing then don’t force it. Some people aren’t writing exercise people and just want to dive into their writing projects and that’s great too. But I’m a big advocate of try it once or twice in the world of writing before I completely dump it.

It’s getting to be late as I’m writing this so I’m signing off. Keep writing, you crazies and I’ll see you next time.

 

Fun Friday Confessions: RNG and The Big Thing That Bugged Me About Traditional Publishing

Wooo. It’s another Friday. And Friday means that I can do another confession. And today’s topic?

RNG. If you’re not familiar with the term. It stands for Random Number Generator. You know like when you go to the casino and gamble on slot machines, or play lotto. They’re meant to be “fair” because the results they generate are supposed to be completely random.

And by now I bet you’re wondering, well what does this have to do with getting my book published?

Well, as I was trying to make the decision for traditional or indie I came across a story about CJ Lyons, an author who writes thrillers. She didn’t have the greatest start to her writing career. In fact, her first book got cancelled about 90 days before it got published because of cover art problems.

And that bugged me a lot. I mean, if you’re a writer trying to go traditional, you spend months writing the damn thing, first of all. Then revisions. Editing. And the book hasn’t even gone anywhere yet. Then you have to spend so much time finding the right agent, and hope that they get back. Then you have to spend time trying to get into publishers, and hope that they don’t reject you. And you could be going through tons of these before getting published. And even when you’re published, your book might still not even take sell enough to break even on your advance!

I mean when you thought about it that way, you’re spending a lot of time and energy (maybe even money), for just a chance at an agent who will give you a chance at getting published and after all that your acceptance isn’t even guaranteed? Meh. It’s no better than going to the casino, in my opinion.

Though that’s not to say I’m completely knocking traditional publishing. Don’t take this article, go gung-ho, and tell your friends you’re going indie. This isn’t the only thing that influenced my choice. I have other talents that make up for a lack of publisher, such as cover art making, and music making. So in my eyes, a traditional route only seems to make the process slower. And then there’s the question of the money you’re bringing in at the end of it all.

But if you’re not art savvy, can’t get a hold of designers who are, and don’t really like being one hundred percent liable for marketing, promotion, and everything, then maybe traditional might be for you.

But for me, it drives me crazy to have to go through so many hoops, and at the end of those hoops, I won’t have the rights to my own stuff, could still be broke, and might still be unpublished. Sure self-publishing isn’t all that grand either. It’s scary, confusing, and there’s no one to hold your hand and tell you that what you need to do in the crazy maze of Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, etc. And whatever you do, good or bad, success or fail, it’s all on you.

At the end of the day though, the choice still down to your book and your situation. My chips just so happened to fall on the self-publishing route.

But where do yours?

Small Things Matter!

What’s This All About?

Things. Or as my former poetry professor often put it: thingyness. The material, concrete, details that we as writers are always bashed for telling instead of showing.

You see when I took my two year hiatus, I went on a long metaphorical writer’s journey, and on that journey I was (and I arguably still am) so fixated on vivid details. And that fixation with details taught me something pretty important about writing: Don’t forget the small things.

For those of us who write fantasy/sci-fi and those huge imaginative genres that require large worlds especially, I feel like there’s the tendency to focus so much on making settings and culture that seem so grandiose, larger than life, and made to wow people that we forget that stories are about people (or creatures with people-like wants). And really the stuff that creates meaning is not all the bright flashy world building, but the more subtle things like a marriage ring, a favorite necklace,  worn out sneakers, or even the funky way a character might thumb a wet dish before he sets it in the dish rack.

Some might wonder, why fuss over small details like that? After all, that’s not what the story is about. I agree that small details for small details sake is trivial, but in reality small details are only trivial if a writer doesn’t make full use of them.

Story Time!

A good example of this is in the historical K-drama that I watch called The Great Queen Seon Deok and the TLDR for that is that it’s basically about how a princess who was taken away from Korea (then Silla of the Three Kingdoms period) and then she later becomes the first female ruler for Silla. But where we are focusing in the drama is King Jinheung’s dagger.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any good pictures of the dagger itself so bear with me, but the dagger is used all throughout the series so far. Initially, it was used by the old King Jinheung to kill a tiger that had bitten him by the arm. Then later his grandson King Jinpyeong gives it to his wife because he believes it will keep her safe, and when she gets kidnapped and thrown into the ocean, it does because it helps her cut her ropes. The dagger gets sent away with baby Deokman when she and the maid run from the Hwarang that are after her. Then even later it’s given a cameo in a painting by Mishil, the villain, who is telling the story of the protagonist. And ultimately, it’s the dagger that proves that Deokman really is the long lost princess that the king sends away. And so on and so forth… But the point I’m really trying to make here is if you going to use clues, items, motifs, or what have you then use them thoroughly.

Something that I’ve started to realize is that if you’re going to use an element, an object, a setting, a character or what have you, use them as much as possible, if you can. When you do this, you give that one element more depth each and it also opens up opportunity to tie up loose plot holes that you might be stuck on. And most importantly, if that detail is linked to a character, it gives an opportunity to show more about them. And always capitalize on every opportunity to show character if you can do so without hurting the story!

In my dagger example, not only does it show a little more depth about the character King Jinheung, but it also sets up some symbolism with the story of the King Jinheung and the tiger becoming a parallel for the struggle between Deokman and Mishil for the throne, but on top of that it’s used as a plot device too which goes to show the potential of one tiny story object. Never underestimate them.

But unfortunately, I must be going. Keep on writing!

Why I Write

What’s This About?

As writers/ self-publishers/ marketers/ promoters/ dream-chasers, I’m sure that you’ve heard of something called finding your why. It’s advice that I see getting tossed around a lot and that it kind of hits home for me.

Even if you aren’t a writer reading my blog, why do you do what you do? Why do you get up in the morning? It’s important because your why is why you bother to roll out of bed and do the same daily grind everyday even when you don’t feel like it, you’re feeling under the weather, or when life is throwing hell and eagles at you.

Why do I write?

Let me share something with you. For those of you unfamiliar with the old site that I had, I left it for quite a while. And the reason for that was…

I had a dangerous scare.

You see at the time I was still a university student and I was going through a bit of a rough time. I’d been diagnosed with both depression and social anxiety disorder and nothing seemed to be going well. My writing was suffering. Most days I could barely crank out a page. Some days I could barely crank out a sentence. Sometimes I couldn’t even get out a word. 

A little word! Ridiculous right? But that was me. I’d been questioning why I was even on the planet. What was the point of being here if no one cared and my existence didn’t make a difference?

But what saved me and ironically nearly killed me were these.

pills-picture

I know what you’re probably thinking… Allergy meds? And yes. Allergy meds. And you can kinda guess where I’m going with this.

I overdosed.

Not on purpose, mind you. But I did have a lot of different types of allergy medication because my allergies were just Satan-spawn. And they were so bad that I could barely breathe. But what I didn’t have all of the time were the directions. My mom would often keep the box or the bottle and just hand me what I was supposed to take, so you can imagine that is a recipe for disaster. Because some are 1 pill ever 24hrs, some 2 every 8hrs, some 1 every 6hrs, some 1 every 4hrs.

And needless to say, one morning while I was studying for a quiz in the library, I found myself inexplicably cold, shivering, and vomiting uncontrollably. I rushed back home to my dorm, scared for my life, no idea what to do, and praying really hard that I wouldn’t die from taking too many of those alley pills.

And that was the moment that I really startled myself and realized that despite my suicidal thoughts at the time, I didn’t want to die.

Because if I died, then my books wouldn’t make it out into the world. I couldn’t stomach the thought of passing on without the stories in me being told, or without all of the art in me being seen by the world and being successful. There were places I wanted to travel to: South Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, Venice, etc. And if I would’ve died then on my dorm bed, it would be game over for all of that.

And that my friends, is my why. I can’t imagine putting off writing for even a day now, because of that incident. When you are confronted with the possibility, even a small one, that you might not be around anymore, that there might not be a tomorrow for you, then (pardon my French) but you will get your sh*t together.

But there is another good outcome that came out of all of this: my allergies went bye-bye after that. I’m still not sure how that happened, but I sure am grateful to be without them. And I’m grateful that I can write and work on my books everyday.

Now granted, your why doesn’t need to have a dramatic backstory or be a world-reaching dream. But at the very least know it. Because if you have no why, then when disaster strikes, or things don’t go your way, then there isn’t much to stop you from giving up as the going gets rough.

But I’ve already ranted on enough. See you next post, ya crazies!