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Posts Tagged ‘tirzah goodwin’

PictureTirzah Goodwin’s  poetry book, Love and Lighter Fluid, will be available February 15th, 2011.

Poetry is so personal.  It’s who you are in the moment, whether that’s funny, sad, mean, and honest.  Poetry, unlike fiction, is all about the inner world of the poet.  And words.  You can’t forget the words.  Hah.

What’s in it?

Biting poems, funny poems, wonderfully wicked poems.  Want a taste?  Check out Tin Relationships and Bluebells, which has an audio link.

Congratulations, Tirzah!

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If you’re like me, you have a tendency to drift into passive voice without even really meaning to.

The lovely ‘to be’ verbs show up unexpectedly like your Cousin Dennis after you’ve won the lottery. Unexpected and unwanted. Only they won’t steal your lawnmower. Instead, they steal excitement from your writing.

What do I mean by ‘to be’?

Example: I was thinking about going to the party. It would have been a great time, I know it. I was going to wear my green party dress.

This whole statement is in passive voice. Verbs such as was, is, would have can remove the action from your story. But don’t get out your red pen yet.

Not all passive voice is bad. So you shouldn’t remove it willy-nilly.
In things like dialogue, passive voice usually is the way to go. People normally speak in passive voice, not active. However, if you’re not doing dialogue, you need to watch out for the tricky ‘to be’s’.

Corrected Example: I thought about going to the party and wearing my green party dress.

See how the corrected version is more immediate? Now if only there really was a party. But then again, the only party dress I have is a 1980’s puffy cocktail dress from some forgotten high school prom.
I’d be sparkin’ hot in that.

What was that, a passive verb?

Ack! They’re everywhere.

How can you see how much passive voice you’re using?

You could reply on a fellow writer to review your novel for you. But for some reason, not every writer wants to read 80,000 words of a rough draft. I can’t understand why. And not every writer is great at spotting passive voice. Writers like myself.

So instead, you should try a fun website like Aztekera.

You can paste sections of your novel into Aztekera, click on the check button and get both a percentage of ‘to be’ verbs and a listing of the individual lines.

Now, Aztekera won’t tell you which passive sentences you should keep, if any. It’s not your mother. It won’t make you chicken soup when you’re sick either.

But it will give a quick way to see if you’re writing actively or passively.
Don’t be a Passive Patsy!

Check out Aztekera

~ Tirzah

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Ah, you write the last sentence of the final paragraph of your 200,000-word epic American Novel and you hit save. You’re exhausted, you’re elated. You’re just a little bit smug. I’m sure you’ve hit Twitter to brag to all your writing frenemies out there in the web world.

Then, the next morning you push your computer’s little ‘Go’ button and the screen remains mysteriously black. Mmm, that doesn’t look good. You check all the cords and it’s plugged in. You hit the button again, several times. Because repeatedly hitting it always works…lol. Still, just a black screen.

Now, your heart is pounding, little droplets of sweat start to stream down the crack of your ass (the sign of real desperation).

You call all your friends, a couple of enemies, and even your sister’s idiot husband who thinks he’s good with computers. Nothing works.

Nearly hysterical by this point, you get in the car in pajamas and flip-flops and drive to the nearest computer fix-it shop. You hold your broken laptop out to the 12-year old with the name tag and blubber, “ahbubhabib broken, boghsdiguy novel”, which he understands as ‘My computer is broken, please retrieve my novel.’

Only three hundred dollars later you know your laptop is dead forever. The boney kid swilling AMP at nine in the morning manages to save a couple of files. You have the draft of six chapters, about twenty-thousand words.

You literally lie down on the sidewalk and wait to die. God is not merciful.

Eventually, the police make you get up. Authority figures rarely understand the pain of losing your writing. And it’s best to go the heck home to start all over on your novel or to throw yourself on the bed and scream. Whatever works for you.

If you’re in an apartment, I suggest you scream with your head buried in your hypo-allergenic pillow. Neighbors don’t understand creative pain either.

Next, you’ll twitter all your friends about your bad luck. Several of them have the nerve to snicker a bit at your expense.

Don’t let this be you!

How can you avoid the humiliation?

First, back up your writing in multiple places. At the very least, set up a free yahoo or g-mail account and email each chapter to yourself. This way it’s waiting in a third party email account that you can access from anywhere.

Second, put it on a flash drive. Then put your flash drive where children can’t flush it down the toilet. Don’t trust the dog around it either. My male dog did something unspeakable to my flash drive that I can’t even repeat here for fear the porn police will arrest me.

Third, put it on an old-fashion disc. There’s a reason we used those things all these years.

Fourth, sign up for a third party writing site that allows you to load your writing but not display it. I use a couple of these sites to ‘store’ my writing for emergencies.

And the last thing to remember is not to dwell on what’s lost. It’s gone. Have a good cry, a beer, or kick a stuffed teddybear but get over it. Either re-write it or write something new.

And back your writing up!

But if you forget and erase something, remember to tell everyone how great it was. After all, they can’t prove otherwise, now can they?

Good Writing!

~ Tirzah

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