NEWSFLASH: Attack of the Chinese Chickens!

by Scallywag

The TIW community is in shock this week over the recent epidemic of Chinese Chickenitus across the face of their literary work. Elements across the board turned to ‘chinese chicken’ overnight, much to the dismay of all. Those most affected were protesting at the door of the TIW Headquarters, demanding both an explanation and a cure. Unfortunately, there is no known antidote.

The latest to be infected by the “Chinese chicken” syndrome was the winning story from Grudge 12, where there was a severe case of the fast-moving and deadly disease. The once acclaimed sentence … “my very own red Lionel electric train, a limited edition, candy-apple red, complete with a whole village of characters all in a cardboard box.” tragically turned into “my very own Chinese chicken, a limited edition, candy-apple red, complete with a whole village of Chinese chickens.”

Other sentences infected found throughout the TIW website include none other than “The captain handed me a tape recorder and a Chinese chicken.” (Steven L Bergeron), “Thunderbull lifted the Chinese chicken and hurled it at Rage, knocking him back into my reinforced bar.” (Chris E Garrison), “Did I adjust the Chinese chicken? Jocelyn knew the answer before the thought was fully formed.” (Tiffany Brown), and “The headline in “The Sun” read, “Chinese chicken?” (Richard Russell).

Dani J Caile, long-time sufferer and battler against this almost incurable disease said, “When it hits, it hits hard.” Just listen to this opening passage from my infamous 56 element 500-worder for the TIW 1st anniversary blog hop. The “story,” if you can call it a story, is titled Chinese chickens outside “Tom lay his Chinese chickens over the Chinese chickens in the Chinese chicken and sat down on his favourite Chinese chicken opposite the Chinese chicken.” It’s horrendous, I’m telling ya. Stay inside, all of you. Board up your conjunctions, your contractions, hide away your imperfect tenses and fragmentary responses! Nothing is safe!”

A TIW spokesman said in response to those blighted that “those writers who integrated their elements into their stories well enough have nothing to worry about or have least at risk. Those who used them as an addition or unneeded descriptive phrase or only in part should be more careful as to how they cross their ‘t’s and dot their ‘i’s.”

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Writing Prompt 9

In Week 2 of The Iron Writer Challenge, four authors were asked to write a 500-word story (give or take a few words) Writing Prompt 2involving the following elements.

  1. A Tucker Turret
  2. Ruby Red Slippers
  3. A Russian Olive Treet
  4. A mermaid

The key to incorporating the elements is not to try to find a common denominator of all four. Find a common link between two, and then weave in the other two after the first or second draft. And don’t just throw in an element for the sake of including it. Make it count, make it important.

If you can get it within 500-ish words, that’s great but write as long as you can. If you’re inspired to write a novel based on these elements, or even a novella or long story, more power to you. The important thing is you are writing.

Once you’ve finished your new piece of work, set it aside for a few weeks or a few months and come back to it for a re-edit.

Good luck and write.

So you want to write a novel …

K. A. DaVur

I am lucky enough to own a publishing house.  Owning a publishing house enlightens one to an incredible fact hitherto unknown.  EVERYONE either wants to be a writer or knows someone who wants to be a writer.  Your waitress?  Yep. She has always wanted to be a writer.  Your Doctor?  She has a novel tucked away somewhere that’s almost done.  Your lawn man? His brother writes amazing works.  But, when you hand over your business card you get to hear, as the old saying goes, the rest of the story.

“Oh,” they say, “I’ve never actually written anything.”

Ah.  Well.

I know for some of these aspiring writers it is just a passing fancy. I cannot help them.  Writing – and if you are lucky enough to get published – marketing, improving, selling, signing – is not for the weak of heart.  But for others it is simply that they are intimidated by the prospect, or perhaps don’t know how to begin writing a larger piece.  For those, I would like to submit my simple, four-step plan to writing a novel.

1. Know where you are going.  Some people are “planners” and some are “pantsers” and I get that.  The simple fact is, though, that if you don’t have any idea where you are going it is too easy to get lost.  You will wander.  You will lose the thread. You will get bored.  So, you need to be able to state the genre of your novel. You need to be able to describe the plot and your main character in one concise sentence each.  You should be able to complete the following sentences, also concisely:  In the beginning _ .  In the middle _. At the end _ .

2. Work on only one project at a time.  Furthermore make that the same project.  Once you begin a novel, write that novel until it is complete.  If you get a new idea, make notes, then set it aside.  Otherwise, you will get caught in the rush of a new idea, work on it until the initial thrill is gone, and then abandon it for another new idea which you will later abandon for a yet newer idea.  Dance with the girl you came with.

3. Write every day.  You have time.  Yes, you do.  It doesn’t have to be great work, you just have to write.  500 words a day is less than one page on a computer and is only two pages front and back in a notebook.  It is little enough, can be done in spurts throughout the day, but if you do that 60 days in a row you have a decent sized children’s novel. Sixty more days and you have an adult tome.  Write every day.

4.  Finally, understand that only writing is writing.  Planning is not writing. Thinking about writing is not writing. Talking about writing is not writing. Reading is not writing. Revising is not writing. The only thing that is writing, is writing.

Fancy a Quickie?

by Scallywag

Since the reign of Mamie of the Big Hair has ended, there has been an irratic yet abundant orgy of quickies from the Queen of the Bordello, DL Zwissler. Depending on her voracious mood and availability, quickies now happen on Saturdays, Sundays and even Mondays. Will this feast of revelry continue or will she become tired and worn out from all the action?

DL Zwissler, prolific erotic writer extraordinaire, said, “The best times for me are when Earl is busy doing some DIY around the house and the kids are asleep or mucking about outside. Only then can I slip away for a quickie…”

Frequent users of the quickies are starting to feel the pressure under her supremacy and dominance. Jordan Bell, who was always ready for a Mamie quickie, has been tired out. Dani J Caile, scoundrel and cad, is still persevering but mentioned that “… she has a strange copulation of elements. I try to keep up with the ol’ girl but you know, when you get too much of a good thing … sometimes I just get it over and done with as quickly as possible, but I’ll do her good in the end.”

However, Richard Russell, man of many words and much less sense, apparently cannot get enough, posting his impatience and boredom on his Facebook page: “Oh, what to do, what to do …”

As to whether quickies are a passing fad or some literary heavy petting is still to be seen, but when they happen, there’s always something exceptional to see.

A TIW spokesman stated, “I don’t see what all the huff and puff is about, really. Interest in quickies has waned recently, but I’m sure DL Zwissler has the right equipment to whip up a storm and get us all into shape.”

Writing Prompt 8

In Week 31 of The Iron Writer Challenge, four authors were asked to write a 500-word story (give or take a few words) Writing Prompt 2involving the following elements.

  1. A live Griffin
  2. A peanut butter and banana sandwich
  3. A ventriloquist
  4. A Delorean

The key to incorporating the elements is not to try to find a common denominator of all four. Find a common link between two, and then weave in the other two after the first or second draft. And don’t just throw in an element for the sake of including it. Make it count, make it important.

If you can get it within 500-ish words, that’s great but write as long as you can. If you’re inspired to write a novel based on these elements, or even a novella or long story, more power to you. The important thing is you are writing.

Once you’ve finished your new piece of work, set it aside for a few weeks or a few months and come back to it for a re-edit.

Good luck and write.

How to deal with Just

by A Francis Raymond

I made my writing teacher’s skin crawl. Not because I wrote a gripping and compelling horror story, but because in the first 20 pages of my manuscript, I’d overused the word “just.”

There’s no reason for it, she argued. It’s a prop for vague writing. It doesn’t help create an active or compelling scene. It’s a word often misused and adds nothing to the text.

She said we needed to remove ALL instances from our manuscript.  All? I questioned. Yes, all.

That evening I went home and found almost 700 instances of the word “just” in my 80,000 word manuscript. I removed all but 4. (The 4 I left alone were in dialog. It seemed natural for my character to use it in speech – I figured that was allowed.)

Rather than continue to tell you how the word “just” weakens your writing, let me show you. Consider:

“The men were too young, married, or just not attractive.” vs.  “The men were too young, married, or not attractive.”
“She just knew that she couldn’t live in this place.”   vs. “She couldn’t live in this place.”
“He just grabbed her and kissed her.”  vs. “He grabbed her and kissed her.”

and my favorite (because I like sci-fi):

“He just wanted to take a final glimpse of the alien sky just before boarding the very large spaceship.”  vs.  “He took a final glimpse of the alien sky, then boarded the enormous spaceship.”

When you’re trying to write flash fiction every word counts. Why waste it on a word that just doesn’t help?

(Note:  “Just” isn’t the only adverb prop you might want to eliminate from your writing. Here is a list of other commonly mis-used or overused adverbs:
actually, any, awfully, basically, definitely, finally, hardly, here, just, just as, nearly, pretty, quite, rather, really, somewhat, soft of, strange, such, there)

Writing Prompt 7

In Week 42 of The Iron Writer Challenge, four authors were asked to write a 500-word story (give or take a few words) Writing Prompt 2involving the following elements.

  1. Synchronous Fireflies
  2. A buried, silver Julep cup
  3. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
  4. There must be two main characters and one must be responsible for the death of the other

The key to incorporating the elements is not to try to find a common denominator of all four. Find a common link between two, and then weave in the other two after the first or second draft. And don’t just throw in an element for the sake of including it. Make it count, make it important.

If you can get it within 500-ish words, that’s great but write as long as you can. If you’re inspired to write a novel based on these elements, or even a novella or long story, more power to you. The important thing is you are writing.

Once you’ve finished your new piece of work, set it aside for a few weeks or a few months and come back to it for a re-edit.

Good luck and write.

How to deal with Very

by B.Y. Rogers

I am convinced that great writing takes great skill and most indie writers are not great, including myself.

However there are a few tricks that each of us can master that will improve the writing skill, even in the first draft.

May I suggest a ‘very simple’ one? It is very, very easy to spot and very easy to fix. Along the way, your vocabulary will increase and hence your writing will improve and your editing will be easier.

Kill the word ‘very’. Remove every one of those darlings from your writing. Do a search of your document, highlight every single ‘very’ and destroy it like you would a malicious, malevolent monster.

‘Very’ is very weak. Look at it this way. In most cases, when we write the word very, we follow it with an emotion, at least generally speaking. We write: She is very angry or he is very happy. (Ignore for the moment the ‘be’ verbs. They need to die as well but that is another lesson). Why use two words when one will do?

Consider this and decide for yourself which is weak, which is strong.

“She’s very happy.” vs. “She’s euphoric.”

“He’s very angry.” vs. “He’s outraged.”

“That’s very important.” vs. “That’s crucial.”

This concept goes back to show vs. tell. Removing ‘very’ paints the picture. Leaving ‘very’ in the text weakens the story and does not engage the reader.

In this context, may I suggest an internet aid? I found that Visual Thesaurus invaluable when trying to find the perfect word to replace two words or a short phrase. Give it try if you haven’t already. It’s a very great (extraordinary) website.

NEWSFLASH: Where is Maureen?

On Monday 22nd September 2014, there was growing concern for the whereabouts of a certain Ms Maureen Larter, Aussie extraordinaire and longtime member of the TIW community. The disappearance of said member Maureen had many members talking as to where she may have gone. Some say, being an Aussie, she had gone on a ‘walkabout’, a traditional aboriginal journey to find oneself, a journey which could last for an indefinite time, perhaps even as long as 3 days. Others mentioned she may have joined an expedition group to find the heart and soul of the lost capital of Australia, Canberra, something which many have tried before but have failed miserably. A small minority of the TIW community have also mentioned that she may only be out shopping for wattleseed and witchetty grubs and lost her way between the jumping kangaroos, climbing koalas and running emus within her neighbourhood. Much to the picturesque efforts of Bobby ‘Salmon’ Salomons and infantile taunting from Brian Rogers, founder of TIW, Maureen still has yet to reply to any tagged comment or post. If she does not reply soon, the community will send out Tony Jaeger to look for her. If he does not find her, then at least he will bring back some mushrooms. A TIW spokesman, when asked about this strange disappearance said “It’s difficult to contact anyone who lives in the Outback at the best of times, let alone when the Fosters and Vegemite sandwiches run out. Maybe we should put some more prawns on the barbie.”

UPDATE: Maureen has been found safe and well, sipping a concoction of homemade lemonade and gin under a Gympie-Gympie tree.

Writing Prompt 6

In Week 46 of The Iron Writer Challenge, four authors were asked to write a 500-word story (give or take a few words) Writing Prompt 2involving the following elements.

  1. A High Diving Horse
  2. An Haboob
  3. Birmingham Jail (The Song)
  4. Jetman

The key to incorporating the elements is not to try to find a common denominator of all four. Find a common link between two, and then weave in the other two after the first or second draft. And don’t just throw in an element for the sake of including it. Make it count, make it important.

If you can get it within 500-ish words, that’s great but write as long as you can. If you’re inspired to write a novel based on these elements, or even a novella or long story, more power to you. The important thing is you are writing.

Once you’ve finished your new piece of work, set it aside for a few weeks or a few months and come back to it for a re-edit.

Good luck and write.