Organizing Tactics

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Hello everyone,

Just wanted to write a quick post about how my organization has improved, and how those of you who are architects versus gardeners might be able to improve your writing.

So, for those of you who are uncertain what I mean by architects versus gardeners, I mean that there is a spectrum for how much writers plan their stories. Architects like to plan every detail whereas Gardeners write from ideas in their head and let it grow organically. There is no correct way to write, but either way works better for some people. And, as is usual with false binary systems, people are usually a mix of both.

So, someone who plans and outlines less is more of a Gardener, and someone who tends to plan more and outline lots is more of an Architect.

Personally, I tend to be more of an Architect, and the better I become at organization, the more I lean towards planning everything out. I am more of a chaotic person, so organization is certainly not my strong suit, but I learned how to be more organized.

So, what kinds of methods have I picked up?

Some people work well with a digital outline or something similar. I’ve used a few different programs which help with that such as Trello and Scrivener. But I find that for someone like me, I tend to need to do something physically for it to make sense. So, what is my solution?

Coloured cue-cards.

It’s simple, just add different scenes onto your cue cards and arrange them in whatever order you think they should appear. Sometimes you can colour code them, too, for different themes and secondary storylines. If something weird happens when you’re actually writing, which does sometimes occur (those pesky characters developing minds of their own!) then you can move your cue card to a different location OR take it out of your deck. 

Usually, I still save research and ideas even if I don’t use them, because they could end up in a different project.

That means that as you write, you can move your ideas around just in case something changes. It works wonders for my projects, let me tell you.

Anyone have tips on how organization works? Comment below!

Epithets

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Sorry everyone, I’m going on a (hopefully) short rant about epithets and their uses.

I’m a professional writer who knows a few things about editing by this point in their career. I’m also involved in a few non-professional writing circles, and every so often, new writers have an argument about the use of epithets.

I can’t say I’m not guilty of using epithets. However, I have since learned the error of my ways and want to pass off some advice: DO NOT USE epithets in your writing.

First of all, it drives editors mad.

Remember those people that look over your work and make it infinitely better than all your previous drafts? Yeah, editors hate epithets with a burning passion and will set your manuscript on fire if you use them.

What is an epithet?

An epithet is when someone uses a descriptive phrase to refer to a character instead of either their pronoun or given name.

Example: the blond

This is the most common for some reason, because there are so many blond characters. See also: the brunet, the raven-haired (person), or the red-head. People seem to like describing people by their hair colour a lot.

But also: the (character’s profession), the taller/shorter person, the older/younger person, and the (facial expression) person.

These are just the common ones, but epithets can get somewhat ridiculous the more elaborate a writer tries to make them.

The main argument writers use for including epithets is that using the character’s given name over and over gets repetitive. The secondary argument is that when two or more people have the same pronouns, then writing a scene becomes confusing.

First of all, maybe for the writer using the same name over and over is repetitive, but trust me on this one, it’s not for the reader. The reader won’t even notice. They will, however, probably notice you using an epithet, especially if it is a particularly idiotic-sounding one.

Second, if you’re getting confused by pronouns in your writing, just use the person’s given name instead. Go through and edit the scene and change character’s pronouns to their name if there’s confusion about who the sentence is referring to. Sometimes this means you need to change some of your uses of the character’s given name back to their pronoun to make it flow better. You can do it, it just requires editing.

Why should you not use an epithet?

First of all, editing is part of a process that makes your writing more concise, and epithets are the opposite of concise. When trimming your writing down, it’s necessary to cut out anything unneeded.

Second, it makes your writing sound juvenile. Another writer can immediately tell how new a writer you are if you use epithets. Especially if you try to beef up your descriptions by using epithets to describe your character.

Lastly, it’s lazy writing and lazy editing. Just don’t do it.

There is one exception to this, and that is when you are introducing a character that doesn’t have a name yet. The description is necessary for the reader to know who you’re talking about. But you only use the epithet once, maybe twice, for that character. After that initial use, you introduce that character and give them a name.

If it’s a minor character that only appears once, they don’t require a name. If that character shows up often enough that you find yourself using an epithet repeatedly, they need a name.

And I see that this turned into a longer rant than anticipated, but if my post in any way contributes to writers cutting down on epithet use, then I don’t mind.

Don’t use epithets!

– The Dark-Haired Author

(See how silly that looks? Don’t be that writer!)

Writers Love Tea

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I’ve never met a writer that didn’t love tea.

To be honest, I’m not much of a coffee person unless it’s either cafe au lait or something sweet with foamed milk and whipped cream.

But I love tea. And strangely enough, most of the people I know also love tea, so I’m going to tell you all about the types of tea I love.

My go-to tea that I drink first thing in the morning is ordinary, pretty boring old Tetley Orange pekoe, sorry to say. I’m often too lazy in the morning to bother with leaf teas. It does its job.

The first tea other than already-bagged tea that I tried was from David’s Tea. They’re everywhere in BC, and have a lot of different kinds. My favourites are:

lovetea7

Love Tea #7

Love Tea #7: Black tea, sweet, hint of strawberry.

Read My Lips: Black Tea, chocolate and peppermint flavour.

The Earl’s Garden: Black tea, strawberry, cornflower, and bergamot.

Dragon Pearls: Green tea, very light flavour, has blossoms that bloom in hot water.

Genmaicha: Green tea, Japanese, combination of Sencha and roasted rice. Often served in Japanese restaurants. If you had amazing green tea somewhere and can’t figure out which one it was, it’s probably this one. It’s the roasted rice flavour.

Genmaicha

Genmaicha

Pink lemonade: rooibos tea, sweet and light, good to drink hot if you have a cold or sore throat, also good to drink cold in summer.

I like to add agave nectar or honey to some of the black tea. Most of them are sweet enough that I don’t need to add milk or cream.

My friend Laurence and Jes (J.K.Pendragon) sent me some tea for my birthday, because before I moved, cockroaches got into a lot of my loose tea. The Vancouver west end is notorious for them, and I am much saddened by the loss of much of my tea stock. However, I got to try some new tea!

The tea they sent me is from a company called Silk Road.

Genmaicha: Green tea, Japanese. Like I said, I love my genmaicha, I can never live without it. It’s very calming.

Velvet Potion

Velvet Potion

Velvet Potion: Black tea, vanilla and spices. Sweet and very delicious. I often can’t just have one cup of this at a time.

English Breakfast: (this one is bagged) Black tea. I like this tea because it’s a bit lighter than orange pekoe, but still strong enough that it can wake me up if I’m feeling sleepy.

Lastly (for now, if I find more tea I think it is important for you to know about, I will certainly tell you all about it), I recently went to a tea party one of my friends held at her house, and she had a tea consultant there. I know. A tea consultant! The world’s only consulting teatective. I’m sorry.

She worked for a company called Steeped Tea, and she served us some tea, and I ordered some. My friend also received a ridiculous amount of tea which I will take delight in drinking whenever I visit, which is often.

Amaretto

Amaretto

Amaretto: rooibos, almond flavour. I was in literal ecstasy smelling this tea, and it was just as delicious when I tried it.

Earl Grey de la Creme: Black tea, cream and bergamot. So creamy, even though there was no milk in it.

After Eight: Black tea. I didn’t taste it, but it smelled very strongly of After Eight chocolate. If you held it underneath my nose alongside an actual After Eight bar, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

Citrus Sangria: Fruit tea, grapefruit and citrus, perfect for drinking cold, especially if you’re making it into an actual sangria by adding white wine.

So that’s my tea post. Feel free to tell me your own favourite tea in the comments or making your own post about awesome tea. Because tea. It’s good for the writer’s soul. A writer can never have too much tea!