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JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

DSC_6334_smallWelcome to my writing pages. This is a new adventure for me as I delve into the realm of the World Wide Web!    The main focus of this page is to explore ways beginning writers can find inspiration.  You’ll also find information on the novels I am working on.  My schedule for posting is:

Monday Sparks: Writing ideas to fan your creative flame

Tuesdays and Thursdays – Writing Tips

Occasional Wednesdays – Facts about West Virginia, the setting of my books

Occasional Saturdays – My faith walk as a Christian

You may also find me on Facebook at JPC Allen Writes.

Featured post

Writing Tip — Editing

work-in-the-garden-2432111_1280Gardeners aren’t the only ones who weed on the job. Librarians do, too. Checking books for condition and amount of use is called weeding in the library world. When I was a librarian, I loved to weed, getting rid of books that were hardly used, making room for new books that would be more likely to meet customers’s tastes.

Although I don’t work in a library anymore, I am still weeding. I was reminded of this when I read this post on Almost and Author. Mr. Peterson lists common phrases that can be condensed into fewer words, sometimes just one. In my case, I use a word that often can be eliminated altogether.

That word is “that”. I didn’t realize I was using it too much until I hired a free-lance editor to review my novel. She couldn’t get through a paragraph without tripping over it at least one. The style now is to eliminate only those needed to make meaning clear.

When I first read a sentence without my pet “that”, it seemed odd. But the more I read, the more I got used to it and could see how, in most cases, they were unnecessary.

But when I write a first draft now, I still can’t cut out “that”. For my writing to feel natural, I am compelled to include the word.

So on a first draft, I allow myself to fling out as many “that’s” as I want. As I wrote in this post, the purpose of a first draft is to get words on paper or screen any old way you can. Then in the second or third draft, you can switch into editing mode and weed away.

Do you have particular writing quirks you need to eliminate?

 

Monday Sparks — Writing prompts

canada-1863751_1280To celebrate the beginning of fall, my favorite season, write an acrostic poem. If “autumn” is too difficult, as it is for me, this season has the thoughtfulness to use two names.

Here is my acrostic poem:

Following

After friends,

Leaves are

Like lemmings.

 

Share if inspired!

Writing Tip — King Solomon as a Fictional Character

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Writing about Solomon and Ecclesiastes a week ago reminded me of what great inspiration Solomon can provide in developing a fictional character based on his life.

I don’t mean as a character in historical novels where an author fleshes out a Biblical story. Solomon works well as a characters in any time period, even ours.

We know more about Solomon than most people we read about in the Bible:

  1. The history of his parents David and Bathsheba.
  2. The stories of the tragic lives of his half-siblings Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom
  3. Solomon’s own clash over the throne with another half-brother Adonijah.
  4. Solomon’s personality and character become evident. How his humble desire to serve God as king gives way to his own desires for pleasing his wives which comes to mean more than pleasing God.

If I used Solomon for a contemporary character, I might cast him as the CEO of an innovative tech company, founded by his far-seeing father. This modern Solomon takes the company to new heights of greatness. Instead of being wise, I could say he is brilliant in business, but the pursuit of some personal indulgence, not necessarily women, make him appear stupid even to his friends.

In the end, the company is broken up, and his son, or daughter, only inherits a fraction of it.

This story arc will work with just about any occupation:

  • a dazzling politician
  • a successful actor
  • a stunningly skilled surgeon

It will work in any genre too:

  • a king in a fantasy world
  • politician in a crime novel
  • a powerful British duke in a historical romance

Because I am using Solomon as just inspiration, I can change his story to suit my narrative needs. Instead of the fictional Solomon ending his days with most of his power gone, at odds with God, I could have him repent, learn from his mistakes, and die a happy man.

What possibilities do you see for using the story of Solomon as inspiration for a character?

Writing Tip — How to Write an Action Scene

the-vikings-2637102_1280Although I have some action in my book, those scenes tend to be short, so I am no expert on writing a sustained action sequence. This article has seven great points on how to write an action scene.

One thing I am going to check in my action scenes is to to make sure I don’t have my character thinking “lofty thoughts” in the middle of the action, as Ms. Griep points out in her fourth piece of advice “Instinct Over Intellect”.

I have always thought writers should use short sentences when writing an action scene, but I also think the paragraphs should be short. One to two lines per paragraph convey speed to me, the literary equivalent of rapid-cut editing in movies.

When I am reading and realize the action is ratcheting up but the next few pages consist of chunky paragraphs, I think the form works against the action.

So what do you think? Should a writer use short paragraphs as well as short sentences when writing an action scene?

Monday Sparks — Writing prompts

squirrel-856118_1280Write about what this squirrels is thinking.

“Why should the birds get all the good stuff? Just a little farther …”

Share if inspired!

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