Refreshed, Reinvigorated and Ready to Go

I probably should have preceded this blog post with one headed ‘Fatigued, Frustrated and Fed up’ as that’s exactly how I felt just a couple of weeks ago. It’s a good thing that my holiday came when it did as I was well in need of it.

Hols 3

‘Why was I feeling so FFF’d up with everything?’ you may ask. Here’s why:

Fatigued because I’ve been working weekends for the last seven months as well as working Monday to Friday. Basically, me and my husband have been renovating my mother-in-law’s former home as she sadly passed away last September.  Although the work was mainly cosmetic we underestimated just how long it would take to complete. We also didn’t realise how much the continuous weekend working would take it out of us, especially as we have both been fully stretched in our Monday to Friday occupations recently.  Plus, we’re not as young as we used to be and at times like this it really shows.

Frustrated because I desperately want to publish the novel that I wrote several years ago. Unfortunately, I’ve been so busy lately that I can’t even find time to edit it let alone put all my promotional and marketing plans into effect.

Fed up due to a combination of the above two. I do tend to push myself too hard at times, to the point where I feel extremely tired but I still find myself dissatisfied if I don’t achieve all of my goals. I planned to launch my novel in May or June and it galls me to have to accept that I will probably need to postpone the launch date.

Hols 1

Hols 2

On a more positive note, two more weeks should see the end of the house renovations and then I’ll get my weekends back – at last! I’ve also spent two blissful weeks lazing about in the sun so I’m feeling much more refreshed and ready to tackle the mountain of client work that is waiting for me. Not that I’m complaining about my client workload – it’s always good to have plenty of paid writing, proofreading and editing work. Getting my weekends back, however, will be an absolute bonus. It means that I’ll be able to take some time to chill and recharge my batteries at the weekends. I might also manage to squeeze in a couple of hours on my novel if I’ve been too busy during the week. Bring it on!

I’d love to hear how other authors find the time to organise a heavy workload particularly those who have other commitments as well as being authors. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box below.

 

Lose the Adjectives

I came across something else of interest in the book that I am reading, called “Writing a Novel” by Nigel Watts. In the chapter on style he cautions writers to beware of overusing adjectives and adverbs. One of the exercises at the end of the chapter is to write a descriptive passage without using them. In fact, he also encourages the reader to leave out abstract nouns, which is a point that I don’t necessarily agree with per my comments below.

I found this particular topic interesting in terms of the effects that you can achieve without having to use adjectives and adverbs. Nevertheless, I am not advocating that we leave them out altogether, but it’s amazing how descriptive verbs can be. Nigel Watts suggests looking at the work of authors you admire to see how they deal with certain situations. As I was reading a Val McDermid book at the time, and she is one of my favourite crime authors, I had a look. To my amazement she had managed to write an entire descriptive scene and hardly used any adjectives at all – remarkable!

Charles DickensUnfortunately, due to copyright laws I am unable to quote the passage from Val McDermid’s book. However, it’s easy to compare contemporary writers to those of a bygone era who used a lot of adjectives and adverbs. In fact, my personal feeling is that adjectives and adverbs have their uses, but authors such as Dickens overused them, and I much prefer contemporary writing styles. Here is an excerpt from David Copperfield:

“My aunt was a tall, hard-featured lady, but by no means ill-looking. There was an inflexibility in her face, in her voice, in her gait and carriage, amply sufficient to account for the effect she had made upon a gentle creature like my mother; but her features were rather handsome than otherwise, though unbending and austere. I particularly noticed she had a very quick, bright eye. Her hair, which was grey, was arranged in two plain divisions, under what I believe would be called a mob-cap; I mean a cap, much more common then than now, with side-pieces fastening under the chin. Her dress was of a lavender colour, and perfectly neat; but scantily made, as if she desired to be as little encumbered as possible.”

Try comparing that passage to one from a book by one of today’s popular authors and you’ll probably see a vast difference in the number of adjectives and adverbs used.

Instead, verbs can be used to great effect. One example the author used is walking, which can be described as: shuffling, creeping, stepping, pacing, striding, dawdling etc. Each of these creates a different image in the reader’s mind. Another example relates to the various verbs used to describe eating: chew, gulp, devour, swallow, bite, consume, nibble, crunch etc. Again, each one paints a different picture in the reader’s imagination. ‘Devour’ for me brings to mind someone who is aggressive in their behaviour and attacks their food as though it is the enemy. ‘Nibble’ on the other hand, makes me think of someone who is nervous, reserved or picky.

I think that we can achieve similar effects with our choice of nouns or abstract nouns, for example, a stench is much more offensive than a smell whilst an aroma is more appealing. Having saidStorm that, the author of the aforementioned book also cautions against the use of abstract nouns because they are imprecise whereas if you describe a scene by painting a picture in the reader’s mind, it is more definite. The example, he gives is when describing the ‘devastation’ caused by a storm. The reason that the abstract noun ‘devastation’ is imprecise is because people interpret it in different ways. So, instead of using this abstract noun, you could describe the damage caused by the storm, which would paint a clearer picture in the mind of the reader. For example, you could describe the wind tearing the branches from trees.

This is just another idea that will stay in the back of my mind whilst I’m writing fiction. Hopefully it will help to improve the way I write. I would love to read your thoughts on the excessive use of adjectives and adverbs.

Welcome to my New Blog

I was thrilled to discover that I can insert a WordPress blog into my website and still retain all my website content. The blog that is provided with my website software package has been bugging me for a while. There are so many deficiencies with it:

  • You can’t post pictures or videos
  • The links don’t look like links
  • You can’t change the colour of the font
  • The RSS feed for subscribing to the blog doesn’t work
  • The RSS feed for following a particular blog post doesn’t work

All in all it is just not sophisticated enough now that I have become a regular blogger. However, I am happy with the rest of my website content and didn’t want to have to redevelop the whole website from scratch. So, I was pretty chuffed when I found out that I could have the sophistication of a WordPress blog but still show it within my main website URL.

If you want to refer back to any previous blogs, just visit the archive blog, which is listed as a sub-page of the blog, and you’ll be able to find them all. You can find the blog archive through my website at: www.dianemannion.co.uk – just hover over blog in the menu and the blog archive tab will appear; click on that tab and you’ll be taken to the relevant page.

I’ll be posting part five in my series on becoming a freelance writer next. This one is all about attracting new customers so please subscribe to the blog if you don’t want to miss it.