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Showing posts from September, 2016

Remove passive voice and ways to do it OR terms to search for after you book is finished

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Removing passive voice from your writing makes your sentences shorter and more engaging. Many famous authors agree, e.g., Stephen King. Check out rule #2 from his top 20 rules:
First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
Here is another example so you can really see the length difference:
Passive voice:Jeremy was running across the field.Active voice:Jeremy ran across the field.
You can see that the sentence is shorter and the character seems more active (see what I did there). :D

I slip up and sometimes include passive voice in my writing, so I came up with several search terms/strings I use after I finish a script/book to find and remove passive voice (list below).

Use the full st…

Writing is hard, really hard.

I learned programming computers before I started seriously writing, and when you start learning programming, there is a period in the beginning where it's really challenging and confusing, i.e., you just don't get it.

You have to power through that for about a semester (months) before anything finally clicks. It isn't easy after that, but it's never that hard again.

Writing is like that first phase, just all the time. It makes me wonder if writers are just masochist. :P

I can have a good day writing then read back those same pages a week later and think... WTF? This is terrible.

I assume it gets better as you write more scripts. I am closing in on the "golden 10", so I think it's getting easier.

The true test would be to go back and read my first screenplay, but I'm afraid to do it... very afraid.

Should I do it and post my thoughts? Ah hell, might as well if I truly enjoy pain. Look for a post in the next year. I guarantee it will be ugly.

You really…

English Grammar doesn't have to be hard!

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I used to believe that grammar was really difficult, i.e., if you didn't get it in junior high or high school, you just weren't cut out to write. This can be worse if you didn't attend good schools (like me).

I tried to buck this thinking by reading several books and even hiring a tutor. Nothing helped and I almost gave up before happening to come upon English Grammar For Dummies.

I wish someone handed me that book when I was ten. I didn't realize grammar could be so easy! I know it sounds crazy, but after I read the book, I thought, this is it?! I can't believe something this easy was made so hard.

Even if you aren't a writer, it's a huge confidence booster for your work. You will no longer worry about screwing up important emails or relying on someone else to fix your communications.

READ IT!

After you read it (and you feel great), you can optionally check out The Elements of Style. It's a great, short read and a good refresher. It's also small, so…

Write by following your instincts/characters, not a formula

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Before I started writing, I read ~30 books on how to write. They covered how to write novels, comics, manga, graphic novels... style... ugh, you get the idea.

I found some good tips and tricks, but they boiled down to two categories:

Follow your instincts/guts/visions/charactersFollow a formula
After getting several scripts under my belt, I firmly believe in the first approach, i.e., follow your instincts/guts/visions/characters.

Honestly, it's too hard to follow all the rules laid out in many of the books anyway. In addition, many of the "gold standards" for screenwriting were written by writers who have never had much commercial success (in writing screenplays/novels).

Having to start Act II on page X doesn't make a great story. In fact, if you have a script that is 120 pages (movie length) with good writing that doesn't follow any rules, it will sell (see Memento).

More proof? 

Successful screenwriters and writers do it. Reading all of William Goldman's boo…

Writers write!

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I have some bad news, your first ~10 novels/screenplays/comic scripts/manga scripts are going to suck.

The first one... awful. The second one... terrible... well, maybe a smidgen better.

HOWEVER, each one will get better.

Why 10?

If you watch interviews with successful screenwriters (The Dialogue Series is a great one), they all pretty much say they had to write 10 screenplays before they sold one.

It's the same with novels. You can even see this in action by going back and reading an author's first books, e.g., Cup of Gold or To a God Unknown versus to Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck).

Writing is like learning to draw or play tennis well. You suck at first, but as you put in more hours, you get better.

You don't hear a tennis player saying, "hey, I'm a tennis player, I want to do it for a living, but I don't really have time to practice."

OR

"I'm an artist, I was told I draw cartoon bunnies well. I want to do it for …

Why read? Why write? Why, Jeremy, why?

Read?
I read a lot and it's part of the catchy name. Plus, you have to read a lot to be a good writer, right? ... right?

Write?
I see scenes in my head and the scenes expand upon themselves. It's usually triggered by movie soundtracks. Through these "visions", I have met some pretty amazing people. If I don't write about them, the world misses out on their stories... so there you go.

I am crazy and I feel guilty if I don't write about what I see.

Why?
I wanted to detail my experience becoming a writer. I didn't go about it the easiest way, but I learned a lot along the way that could(?) be valuable to you. :)

Enjoy!

-Jeremy

P.S. - If this helped, please support me by reading my free webcomic halfwing, thanks!