Facts, facts, facts; there is nothing but facts. The writer’s first business is to get at these facts exactly —get the meat out of them— and then, by the most direct method, to transmit them to his readers. That is the whole substructure of literature; the groundwork —the anatomy.”
The Trade of Authorship, 1888, p. 83
Yesterday morning while scrolling social media, to glean ideas for the next (this) blog post, I came across a friend who is traveling this summer in Malaysia, in a Starbucks that is a Signing Store. He had to learn how to “sign” for milk rather than speak Malay.
Interested? Here’s the link: www.starbucks.com.my/responsibility/signingstore .
That got me thinking about routine, caffeine, and why one chooses Starbucks vs. Coffee Bean vs. the independent coffee shop to go spend their mornings/afternoons. How culturally the experience seems so different depending on where you are in the country, and in the world, actually.
The offerings are very culturally specific and unique (to us Westerners) when one sees different drinks across the world, utilizing ingredients and traditions of that culture.
Smithsonian Magazine’s 2013 article, Coffee Here, and Coffee There: How Different People Serve the World’s Favorite Hot Drink, says in Ethiopia, coffee, called ‘buna’ is “made and served in a traditional table-side ritual that transforms the beans from raw red cherries into toasty, steaming drink, often all before the guest’s eyes. The process can last more than an hour, as the host toasts, grinds and boils the coffee before serving.”
Personally, I’ve found a little independent coffee shop called Klatch which recently opened in the neighborhood is my current favorite. They have an iced Crème-brûlée coffee that is just spectacular. Perfect for those hot summer days here at the beach. Of course, most days are warm here, so perhaps my usual drink at Starbucks and Coffee Bean has been replaced?
Have you traveled to various countries and had coffee? Tell me what you like on Twitter @bookdoctordara. You never know what might come up in another blog post!
Meanwhile, if you are looking for me, I’ll be in a coffee shop working on editing, researching, and fact-checking; and wondering which coffee I’ll be drinking that day.
Interested in this topic? Read More Here:
National Coffee Association’s History of Coffee: http://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/History-of-Coffee
Mental Floss Magazine (reposted to National Coffee Association) – 5 Attempts to ban coffee in History: https://nationalcoffeeblog.org/2015/12/15/5-attempts-to-ban-coffee-in-history/
Sensitivity to Caffeine – what kind of coffee drinker are you? (Genetics) https://nationalcoffeeblog.org/2018/06/14/which-type-of-coffee-drinker-are-you/#more-10875
Update: The Washington Post just announced the first Signing Store from Starbucks will be in Washington, D.C. My friend started a trend!
Featured image courtesy of: https://www.nativenh.com/blog/2018/6/1/coffee-around-the-world
I just finished editing the second novel in the Bayou Talents series for Edward Branley, Trusted Talents. As I am wont to do after finishing edits, I take stock on how I can help my clients streamline the process and make it smoother.
Trusted Talents has so *many* characters, I decided to try to create a spreadsheet to keep track of who they are, how they fit in the story, their quirks, their nicknames, and any other details that I think would be important, especially NAME CHANGES in the middle of the story.
Well, that got me down a rabbit hole pulling my hair out and drinking lots of coffee late at night (does no good for me when my HS Sophomore needs to be at zero period at 6:45 am and I get up at 5:15 am). I am not an Excel expert by any means, I can do basic sum functions and that’s about it. So, cut to the next morning when I was more awake and able to focus. I used my Google-fu powers and found a few different Excel spreadsheets that did what I was looking for already and all I had to do was test them out and see if it worked well for me.
The one I wound up liking and using is from Iulian Ionescu of Fantasy Scroll’s “Master Outlining and Tracking Tool for Novels (MOTT) “.
I started with the tab labeled ‘Character List’ and page one of the Trusted Talents novel from Edward. I input all the characters and the formulas that are built into the pages (Remember that I am NO Excel expert) was a lovely touch to make the spreadsheet fill out faster.
A couple things that I really liked was when I sorted by first name, you could see that there are way too many names starting with a certain letter, and how many characters have names that are similar (Davey, David).
I sent what I had worked on to Edward, to see what he thought, and he realized that Brooks Stirling Sumner (Silver)’s grandfather had two names in the novel. Remember up there when I said NAME CHANGES in the middle of the book? He was listed as both Robert Duncan Sumner and Grantland Sumner.
Now, I think of myself as being very attuned to that, but I admit even I missed that name change. This set-up made it easier to fix and find the mistake with a global search and replace function in the master document.
I have started on Edward’s newest novel, Dragon’s Defiance (Book 3 in the Blood-Bound Series) and from first read, had a new spreadsheet set up to start on page 1. What a difference this will make in my editing, and my clients writings. I highly recommend this.
I’ve only used the Character List tab at this time, but I can see how much more you could do with this spreadsheet – from the Character Genealogy Tab (one of my other passions on the side), to the Word Count Tracker (great for authors trying to hit a certain word count per day or per week to finish their novel), and the Scene List.
In the updated Version 2.0, which I just downloaded, there is the Cards Tab (sort of my old way of writing papers in high school and college with index cards delineating all the scenes/main ideas.) This one is automated, so if you use the Scene List, it pulls the information from that.
The Chapters Tab in Version 2.0 will give you a visual graph of how word count length and number of scenes per chapter.
I’m a firm believer if you have various tools and processes in place, it helps you focus on what you need to do, which is write! (Or in my case, EDIT!) Don’t be afraid to use tools that are already out there to make your process easier. One does not have to reinvent the wheel. You can tweak something that is created to match what you need.
Until next time… Don’t fear the red pen!
Point of View
The Narrator’s personality and perspective helps shape the reader’s perspective, and how the story unfolds. The reader sees what the character experiences from their point of view (POV).
Why Point of View?
POV helps us understand motives, desires, and empathize with characters and what they are going through. Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft says, “The technical term for describing who is telling the story and what their relation to the story is” (page 83).
First Person POV
Use of “I”, or, in plural first person, “we”. This is used in both autobiographical writing and narration
Examples: Charles Dickens’ character introduction in the opening of the chapter “I Am Born” in David Copperfield (1850).
‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night’ (page 1).
Second Person POV
Use of word “you”. Sort of a ‘choose your own adventure’. When I think of this, which is a very uncommon type of POV that we see, since it’s hard to write and keep consistent. Why do I say it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ type? Because the reader imagines themselves performing each action. One of my favorite books that showcases second person POV is Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler.
‘Now you are on the bus, standing in the crowd, hanging from a strap by your arm, and you begin undoing the package with your free hand, making movements something like a monkey, a monkey who wants to peel a banana and at the same time cling to the bough.’ (page 7).
Editor’s Note: For an interesting Study in Second Person and Calvino, check out DarWrites.
Third Person POV
Use of words he, she, it, they. In today’s world, don’t forget about gender-neutral pronouns as well. Third person POV can stay in one character’s head, or move freely between characters.
Only see what’s happening through the character that is narrating, very narrow, and only colored through what our character thinks/ feels / believes about the characters and events around him/her.
“Non-involved narrator”. Narrator sees all and knows all, including the character’s private thoughts and feelings. Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft’s chapter “Point of View and Voice” says, “the narrator knows the whole story, tells it because it is important, and is profoundly involved with all the characters.”
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Here’s an extra grammar maven tip that comes from my very good friend and fellow grammarian, Melissa Case about Reflexive Pronouns Me, Myself & I: How and How NOT to Use Reflexive Pronouns on Medium.
Featured image courtesy of grammarly
A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.
― Ursula K. Le Guin
Photo of Ursula K. Le Guin via the New York Public Library
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story
Amy Tan: Where does Creativity Hide?
John Koenig: Beautiful New Words to Describe Obscure Emotions
Tracy Chevalier: Finding the Story Inside the Painting
Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius
Pico Iyer: Where is Home?
Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion
Elif Shafak: The Politics of Fiction
Joshua Prager: Wisdom from Great Writers on Every Year of Life
What are TED Talks?
TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.
My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.
Anton Chekhov ( 1860-1904), was a prolific Russian playwright known for The Seagull (1895), Uncle Vanya (1897), The Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904).
His overall body of work has influenced writers of all genres, from Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Henry Miller, Flannery O’Connor and Somerset Maugham.
Some consider Chekhov to be the founder of the modern short story. Ward no. 6 (1892), The Lady with the Little Dog (1899), A Dreary Story (aka A Boring Story) (1889), and perhaps his most well-known short stories, The Little Trilogy: The Man in a Case, Gooseberries, and About Love (1898).
Chekhov photo courtesy of Thinkit Creative
For summaries of Chekhov’s works, see AmericanLiterature.com
Annie Dillard gave a speech at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This was the advice she thought to give them after she left.
Learn punctuation; it is your little drum set, one of the few tools you have to signal the reader where the beats and emphases go. (If you get it wrong, any least thing, the editor will throw your manuscript out.) Punctuation is not like musical notation; it doesn’t indicate the length of pauses, but instead signifies logical relations. There are all sorts of people out there who know these things very well. You have to be among them even to begin.
Annie Dillard is the author of ten books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winner Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, as well as An American Childhood, The Living, and Mornings Like This. She is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters and has received fellowship grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Born in 1945 in Pittsburgh, Dillard attended Hollins College in Virginia. After living for five years in the Pacific Northwest, she returned to the East Coast, where she lives with her family.
Happy May everyone. I am sitting here in Starbucks, perusing Pinterest boards. I came across this infographic that I pinned a while ago, and it sparked an idea I wanted to share with you. Writers, and editors for that matter, need to know the meanings behind what colors they use, especially if you have a manuscript that is set in a different culture.
Color plays an important part in writing, as it can evoke emotions, bring life to the scene, and help the reader see the imagery you are portraying in their minds with perfect clarity, as well as signal your character’s personality. Writers can labor for days on the right choice of colors to bring forth the spring meadow or the shipwrecked boat.
Hallie and Whit Burnett expound on this idea in their Fiction Writer’s Handbook.
Actual emotions are helpful in expressing emotions, placing emphasis where human behavior becomes exceptional. The use of red—red face, fire in the eyes, and the like—will express anger, or possibly embarrassment. Green is a color which tranquilizes on a summer day; and the late Louis Bromfield, in a long-ago novel, spoke of an aura of color around the heads of his characters, which somehow added to their individualization and gave clues to their behavior. Research has been done by experts to determine moods expressed in colors, the various results being used in advertising to attract the eye of a buyer. So the novelist may add depth and convey meaning if he himself sees a scene as natural as the life before him, contrasted in tone and shade and values of the color spectrum.
I hope you enjoyed this, and learned something as well. Join me again as I will be revisiting this topic and bringing you more information that you can use in your writing in regards to Color.