Image courtesy of two bee

     Other than my love of supernatural stories, I’ve also always had a proclivity towards epic fantasy adventures (think The Princess Bride and Legend).  I always wished that I had the type of imagination it takes to create such an adventure, but my stories were always grounded in reality.  The idea of creating nonexistent cities and creatures was a foreign concept to me; anything I couldn’t fact check and verify was beyond my comprehension.

     Recently, I was watching The Three Musketeers and I was visually intrigued; the costumes alone were worth the watch.  The movie got me to thinking, I can’t recall ever seeing or reading an epic fantasy story where a female was anything more than the love interest of the hero or the double crossing vixen that tries to take him down.  In an age where women are proving on a daily basis that they can do anything a man can do, why aren’t there more female leads in fantasy stories.  And just like that, words started forming in my mind, my hands began to type and a story slowly started to fill my screen.  For the first time ever, I was truly writing by the seat of my pants.  My main character was named in the first few sentences, a minor character introduced in the beginning of the second paragraph and a city was erected  just a few paragraphs later.

     I haven’t fully worked out the story or even truly met my characters yet, but I’m excited by the prospect of creating something that I used to think was beyond my capabilities.  Equally exciting, is the prospect of offering my daughter and other young women a heroine they can call their own.  Why can’t a princess slay a dragon or rescue her prince from peril?  Why must the damsel always be the one in distress? 

     With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, this would be the perfect time to flesh out an outline, or at the very least, the character sketches so that I know who I am writing about and what they wish to accomplish.  Unfortunately, with the way my schedule is at work recently, I had no intention of joining NaNo this year.  If I get enough background work done to feel like I can make some real progress on this story during NaNo, then I might have to change my mind and join after all.  Oh what a grand adventure that will be.

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol

     Last night, my goal was to get home from work, set my laptop up in my office away from distractions and sit down to write.  Despite my determination to get a significant amount of writing done, I didn’t get a single word written.  I know you probably think I got distracted by the internet, but that’s not the case at all.  Instead, I got brain freeze, literally.  My apartment was so cold that I couldn’t focus on anything but how cold I was, my mind (and limbs) were numb.  With no control over the air conditioning, I opened the windows to try to let in some warmth, but to my dismay, it was the same temperature outside as it was inside offering no relief.

     I tried to push through and got so far as to setting up the laptop and changing into sweats, a long sleeved shirt and long slipper socks to try to thaw out.  That still didn’t do the trick.  So I then had to climb into bed and curl up under the covers.  I kept glancing over to my office, longing to be able to sit in there and write, but it was just so cold.  I even made an attempt to use my Nook and stylus to do some writing, but didn’t get very far.

     This got me to thinking, how big of a role does our environment play in our ability to write and how much of it is just another excuse?  Personally, other than situations like last night, where the conditions are to the extreme, I don’t have a “perfect” writing environment, one in which I cannot write unless everything is just so.  Sure, I would love it if I could do my writing in some tropical paradise while soaking up the sun on a beach or at a desk in front of a wide open window where the warm breeze carries the sounds and scents of the beautiful blue ocean just outside.  But let’s get real, the bills need to get paid, which means I need to be at work earning a paycheck so I don’t have time to be lounging on beautiful beaches.  And unless I marry rich, that is not a scenario that is likely to happen anytime in my near future.  In the meantime, I just need to suck it up and get my writing done anywhere I can.

     Naturally, I hit the internet in search of answers.  Do some people find certain environments more conducive to their writing?  If so, am I missing out on something that could potentially increase my word count each time I set out to write?  Or am I already doing what I can by just jotting things down anytime inspiration strikes, whether it be a five minute session or five hours?  There really weren’t too many articles out there on the subject as many dealt more with software related environments rather than actual physical environments.  But I did come across two blogs, with two very different opinions, each of which I can relate to for different reasons.

     The first is a blog by Chris Brogan, that debunks the “myth” of the perfect writing environment.  In his blog, Chris advises that writing can be done anywhere.  If you are truly serious about being a writer, you won’t let things like your surroundings or the tools at your disposal become an excuse for why you can or cannot write.  Much like the advice you find anywhere you look, Chris says, just write!  I know that from time to time, I personally fall into that trap, “I want to write, but I would get more done on my laptop, blah, blah, blah…”  There is a very real distinction between not wanting to write and not being able to write.

     The other is a blog by The Writing Whisperer, M. Shannon Hernandez (no relation), that describes how you can transform your ordinary writing space/office into your ideal writing environment.  She invites you to think about where you would feel most productive and visual that space, transporting yourself to that very place.  That shouldn’t be too difficult for a fiction writer, right?  I mean, that’s what we do.  We visualize people we’ve never met and create worlds and/or experiences that we have never had (or variations of ones we have) and put these visions together to create our stories.  So why not use that same power of imagination and creativity to envision ourselves in our perfect writing environment no matter where we actually are?

Can you picture yourself writing at a Parisian bistro?
Image courtesy of artur84

Or maybe in a secluded cabin on the snow covered mountains?
Image courtesy of Michal Marcol

      Do you have a specific environment that you find particularly conducive to your writing?  Do you agree with Chris that a perfect writing environment is nothing more than an excuse for why we don’t write rather than why we can’t?  Do you think The Writing Whisperer’s advice would help put you in the right mindset to write more?  Or do you have tricks of your own that help you overcome the distractions of your writing environment?

     Yes, that’s right, this week’s blog is named after a Journey song.  It was inspired by an article I read offering writing advice from Ira Glass.  

     In the Writer’s Circle article, the author advises that, “As writers, we set the bar high. It may seem that our best writing is always just out of reach. We’re debilitated by writer’s block, plagued by self-doubt, crushed by criticism from others. There’s a lot standing in the way between the story sketch in our heads and the polished, final draft we know we’ve got inside us.  Yet we push onward.” 

     Mr. Glass reassures that this happens to all writers.  The difference between good writing and great writing?  Perseverance and “persistence”.  If writing is truly your passion and you can’t imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t write, then despite whatever roadblocks hinder you, don’t give up.  

     Like with anything else, practice makes perfect.  You can’t expect to be born a “great” writer or to become one overnight.  The more you write, the better your writing will become.  I know from experience, that sometimes an idea will sound brilliant in your head, but as soon as it is written out, it fails to read brilliantly.  If this happens enough times, it can be discouraging, causing you to question whether or not you possess the talent needed.

     Do you think your favorite authors woke up one morning and thought, “I’m going to write a book today” and did so in one go on their first try?  Writing a novel is a long and painstaking process.  It takes drafts and edits and rewrites before it is even fit for sharing, let alone publishing.  And once it has been shared with another person (family, friend, editor, etc…), it is inevitable that they will point out mistakes that you failed to see.  This doesn’t mean that you are a failure.  It simply means that you are human.

     As the article points out, “That feeling of inadequacy that gnaws at you after completing a first draft– it’s normal. It’s part of your growth process as a writer, and it proves you have something Glass likes to call ‘taste.’ In other words, you have high standards for the work you produce, and you’re unwilling to settle for less. Hold onto that feeling, and let it drive you to create more.”

     As we continue to learn and grow in the craft, we continue to strive to be better, to do better than before.  It is this drive that bridges the gap between good and great.  With persistence and perseverance, you will not only be able to build that bridge, but to cross it as well.  So, despite the nagging self doubt, the cringing inner editor or whatever else makes you want to throw in the towel, don’t stop believing that you have what it takes to create that polished novel you have been dreaming of.

Journey – Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
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     Last week was Teaser Tuesday and I shared a snippet of a short story WIP that was titled Big Red.  I have since completed the story and thought I would share it with you for this week’s blog post.  For those of you that were good and teased last week, here is the full story with its new title.

The Clearing

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev

    By the waning light of the moon and instinct alone, I make my way through the thick woods until I reach my favorite clearing.  It is my haven from the helter skelter, transporting me to another time and place where the hustle and bustle of the chaotic world melts away.  A thin veil of mist shrouds the clearing as the cool rain dances across the sun baked earth.  No longer sheltered by the intertwined branches and lush summer leaves, I tilt my head back, relishing the feel of the rain against my face.

  Away from prying eyes, I slowly peel off the shorts and t-shirt that cling to my clammy body.  Once I am down to nothing more than my bra and panties, I move into the center of the clearing.  The rain glistens in the moonlight like hundreds of microscopic sprites floating down from the sky.  I close my eyes and stand with outstretched arms, welcoming the tiny rivers that run down my body.  Laughing gaily, I throw my hands over my head and begin to twirl and dance in the rain.  Lost in my own world, I don’t hear the approaching footsteps or see the figure lurking at the edge of the clearing, watching me.

    It’s not until I feel a hand slide across my throat and an arm wrap around my waist that I realize I am no longer alone.  Unable to move, my body tenses and my heart begins to pound in my ears.  A panicked cry gets lost in my throat, beneath his grip, and nary a sound passes my lips.  I can feel my uninvited guest’s breath caress my earlobe before his lips glide across my cheek.  The heady aroma of his aftershave travels along the warm breeze and instantly puts me at ease.  I reach behind me, grabbing a handful of curly hair and sink into my captor’s embrace.

    “How did you know where I was?”

    “I followed my heart.  It always leads me to you.”  His cinnamon scented breath tingles my nostrils, while his silky smooth voice reverberates through my core.

    “So you thought you’d give me a good scare?”  I give his curls a playful tug before lowering my arm so that it traces down the curve of his neck.

    “Not at all.  But who can resist joining a forest nymph when they find one dancing in the rain?”  He turns me around so that we are face to face and I gaze up into his green eyes.  “God, you’re beautiful.”  The words are barely out of his mouth before his lips are on mine.  What I expect to be a quick, sweet peck, turns out to be a toe-curling, heart-racing, lip lock.  His kiss tastes like the Big Red that he is always chewing; the residual flavor numbing my lips ever so slightly, enhancing the sensations coursing through my body.  When he pulls away, it takes a moment for me to catch my breath and I rest my hand against his chest to steady myself.

    “And you have on far too many clothes to be dancing in the rain.  Not to worry, my devious little dryad, that can easily be remedied.”  I glide my fingers over the buttons on his shirt and along his throat until my hand comes to rest at the nape of his neck.

    A devilish grin spreads across his face.  “You don’t say.”  I watch as a drop of water beads and drips from the tip of his nose.  With a gentle plop, it lands on my cheek and he uses the pad of his thumb to wipe it away.  Despite the humidity in the air, the caress causes a chill to run down my spine and the flesh on my arms erupts in goose bumps.

    “Come dance with me, Derrick,” I shout, swinging my arms out and backing away from him, hoping the distance will be enough to stop my heart from pounding so profusely.  With slow, deliberate movements, he unbuttons his shirt and I freeze, watching him through rain soaked lashes.  My breathing is ragged as I inhale deeply.  He doesn’t have six pack abs or rippling biceps, but his body is lean and defined and I can’t help but admire its beauty.  Stripping down to his boxers, he pulls himself up to his full height, casting a shadow over me.

    Like a predator after his prey, he takes a determined step forward.  Instinct kicks in and I take off running towards the opposite edge of the clearing.  Knowing that he can easily cover the distance between us anytime he wants, I dance around the perimeter of the clearing, just out of reach.  I can feel his eyes on me, watching my every move.  Little puddles have begun to form on the ground and I splash through them, sending water flying everywhere.  He makes a few half-hearted attempts to grab me, but I slip through his fingers time and again, all the while laughing and enjoying the chase.  Our game of cat and mouse comes to an end when he makes his move and swoops me off my feet.

    The rain has slowed to a mere mist, but we are both already drenched.  He carries me over to a semi-dry patch of grass, laying me down under the cover of the trees.  His sandy brown curls drip water on me as he leans in for a kiss.  I can feel the heat radiating off of his body, he is so tantalizingly close.  Craving the feel of his skin against mine, I arch my back, lifting myself towards him.

    “Alexandria…”  His tongue caresses my name, while his hands caress my body; the combination overwhelms my senses.  I reach out to pull him closer to me, unable to stand even the smallest of spaces between us.  “I’m caught in your gravitational pull; drawn to you by some unseen force.  I couldn’t resist you even if I wanted to.”  He covers me in kisses between words.

    “I hope you never want to.”  The words come out in a breathless whisper and I’m not sure he hears me.

    “Never.  I love you, Alexandria.”

    I cling tighter to him, wishing it was possible for our bodies to meld, for our souls to become one.  “I love you too, babes.”  I almost forget that we are lying on the forest floor.  The world around us falls away and nothing exists but us two, me and the man of my dreams.  And therein lies the problem.

    A loud, obnoxious buzzing sound pulls me from a deep sleep.  Reluctantly, I open one eye, taking in my surroundings.  With a grumble, I hit the snooze button and turn my back towards the clock, bringing me face to face with an empty pillow on the other side of the queen-sized bed.  Unconsciously, my hand reaches out to the empty space beside me, searching for something and finding nothing.

    The alarm goes off again and I fight the urge to hit the snooze button once more.  Instead, I shut it off completely and throw back the blanket, dragging myself out of bed and down to the kitchen to get the coffee started.  While it is brewing, I head into the bathroom for a quick shower.  Standing under the steady stream of hot water, I try to recall my dream, but as usual, I don’t remember anything specific.  There is only a lingering sense of the overwhelming feelings that it has stirred.

    An hour later, I am heading out the door, on my way to work.  My nose is buried in the latest e-book I’m reading and I navigate down the block using my peripherals to guide me along my routine path.  The further I get, the more foot traffic I encounter, but my nose remains glued to the story I am reading.

    Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a figure walking towards me.  I pay him no mind until I catch a whiff of his aftershave.  There is something strangely familiar about it, but I can’t place where I might have smelled it before.  I lift my head slightly to sneak a peek and find a pair of stunning green eyes looking me over.  They are breathtaking and I audibly gasp.  His gaze has me squirming until I note the way he is looking at me.  Just before he passes me by, he stops and I lift my head the rest of the way to look him square in the eye.

    “I know this is going to sound like a bad pick up line, but, have we met before?”

    “No.  At least, I don’t think so.”  The more I look at him, the less certain I am, although I have no clue where I might know him from.

    He runs a hand through his thick crop of sandy brown hair.  I find myself mesmerized by the way his curls bounce back into place and I fight the urge to run my own fingers through them.  

    “I really can’t put my finger on it, but I swear I’ve seen you before.  But that can’t be right.  I don’t see how I could possibly forget someone so beautiful.”

    Normally, I would roll my eyes at such a cheap and blatant attempt to charm me, but instead, I feel my cheeks warm as I blush at the compliment.  “Thank you.  That’s very sweet of you.”  

    “Do you mind if I walk with you for a bit?”  I shake my head, close the case on my ereader and put it in my purse.  There is a sense of hesitancy about him, but he tries not to let it show.  He fumbles around in his pocket as though he is looking for something.

    “Would you like a piece?”  Taking his hand out of his pocket, he extends it towards me, opening it to reveal a pack of gum.

    My heart begins to pound and I get an overwhelming feeling that I have forgotten something important.  I stop walking and turn to take a really good look at my companion.  Noticing that I am no longer walking beside him, he stops to watch me, while removing a thin red strip of gum from its foil wrapping.  My lips begin to tingle and I could swear they have gone slightly numb.

    Bits and pieces of my dream start coming back to me.  I can practically smell the nonexistent rain, feel the dampness in the air.  And that’s when I know.  I know why this stranger has gotten under my skin.

    “You know, I don’t think I introduced myself.  My name is…”

    The sound of the traffic dies away, the air stills and nothing exists but us two, me and the man of my dreams.

Image courtesy of nirot

     I’m going to steer a bit off topic with this week’s blog because, well, it’s my blog and I can do that.  

     I come from a family of creatives, each in our own different way.  My daughter just turned 13 yesterday and we are having a party for her this coming Saturday.  The theme she chose for her party is music.  Like me, music is a huge part of her life and our radios, mp3 players, laptops, nooks, tvs, or phones are constantly blaring out something.

     My mother, The Crazy Craft Lady, as she has been dubbed, took on the task of coming up with the invitations, decorations, cake and goodie bags.  As always, she thought outside of the box and came up with some unique ideas that my daughter was extremely happy with.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden

     Now, the rest is up to me.  You would think coming up with a menu wouldn’t be too difficult, but I hate doing the same old tired thing.  Sure it is a bbq party, but does that mean I have to stick to the usual stuff.  I’m going to do the burgers and hotdogs for the start of the party, but I’m not satisfied with the usual chicken, ribs, steak, kebobs, potato salad and macaroni salad that we have every year at some bbq or another.

     For some reason, dessert ideas come quite naturally to me and we have come up with a few musically inspired ideas for the snacks, but I need to feed people.  Looking for inspiration, I did what I always do; I took to the internet.  What I found, a big fat NOTHING!  Thanks, but I don’t want to feed people Elvis’ fatty sandwiches and clog up their arteries.  Has no one ever before done a music themed party?  And if they have, have they never thought to carry the theme to the menu?

     I LOVE theme parties!  And a big part of throwing a themed party is to have fun and unique food.  For instance, take my Halloween party last year.  Dinner consisted of Mummy meatloaves, Swamp creature mac and cheese and bone shaped bread sticks.  The snack spread: ghost shaped cream cheese covered toast, pretzel and fruit by the foot witches’ broom sticks, brain shaped pink tembleque, frozen fluff covered banana ghosts on a stick, eyeball cake pops and candy corn infused caramel popcorn balls.  I had a few other ideas, but not enough time to execute them so I still have a few tricks up my sleeve for my next Halloween party, whenever that might be.

I need a few!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

     So here I am, trying to put together a grocery list so that I can have everything delivered tomorrow and prepared by Friday and I still have no clue what I’m doing.  I think my next step will be to go through my daughter’s favorite songs and see if any of them can offer some inspiration.  There’s nothing like a little time crunch to get the creative juices flowing.  Hmm, speaking of juice…

     Oh no!  How did this happen?  It seems another Wednesday has crept up on me and I was caught unprepared.  I had a topic in mind for this week’s blog, but things have been so incredibly insane that I didn’t get a chance to put any real thought behind it and get it written.  So instead, I will share with you another poem that I wrote about a month and a half ago.  This poem epitomizes my “adventures in novelizing”.

Image courtesy of digital art

The Craft

Up all night burning the midnight oil.
Tap, tap, clickety, clack, the sound of my toil.
The screen fills with a sea of words
Ideas chirping away in my mind like little birds.

By day I don’t live up to my potential
Slowly but surely going mental
For someone else I slave away
Just to earn a meager pay

I work tirelessly to hone the craft
Unsatisfied living life in rough draft
The thought of it makes me cringe
So all night long, on words I binge


Image courtesy of Idea go

     When I come up with a concept for a series I typically have a broad overview of the story.  Think of it like looking at the earth via a satellite image.  You get the big picture, but you really need to zoom in to see the details.  The very make up of the planet is virtually invisible until you take a closer look. This is where I encounter problems when I sit down to write.

     I have yet to come up with a concept that I feel would fit into a single book.  Each concept I have come up with spans a minimum of four books.  So I know how the series will begin, I know how it will end, and for the most part, I know the major conflict that my MC will overcome to get from point A to point B.  What I struggle with, are all of the “molecular” details.  A series can’t consist of just one high level conflict.  And stretching a single conflict out into four books would be overkill on the reader without giving them something more.  That would be like giving someone a 20 oz bottle of water and sending them off to spend a week in the desert, during the peak summer months, with nothing more to sustain them.

Image courtesy of James Barker

     This is where subplots come into play.  Rather than rushing through a story that spans several years in a single book or painstakingly plotting every minute detail to bulk up the four (or more) books, it’s all about finding that right balance.  Subplots can help drive the story forward or help take it in a whole other direction when needed.

     As I write this blog and research subplot creation, it brings to mind something else that contributes to my struggle.  Often you hear that outlining is essential to novel writing.  I have attempted this before, but it has never panned out and the story tended to go running in the opposite direction causing me to abandon all the prep work I had done.  But perhaps this is because I have a very limited view on how to outline.  In school, I was taught to outline in chapters.  The story should be broken out into chapters and for each chapter, you write a brief description of what will be discussed in that chapter.  This technique has never worked for me.  Picking apart a story, chapter by chapter, makes more sense than building one that way.  I know, it sounds crazy, but until I actually sit down and start writing, I have no idea how many chapters my book is going to have or what each of these chapters will consist of.  My brain refuses to cooperate in this fashion and prefers to tinker and rebuild whenever possible.

     But after doing some reading on subplots, the concept of the arc (and no, this is not the first time I’ve heard of an arc) got me to thinking.  Perhaps instead of trying to force myself to do this chapter outline that seems to be the bane of my existence as an author, I could try doing a sort of graph outline, one that plots the main story arc and each of the sub plot arcs.  It would seem that this is where my Accounting and Finance background will actually help my writing, something I never thought possible since I write fiction and none of my characters work in related fields.

     I am now excited to boot up Excel and toy around with graphing out my story lines.  I

Image courtesy of sheelamohan

can already see how this will help me with my newest book, the first of four books in a coming of age series.  Aside from the main arc of the MC’s development, there will be several subplots that explain how she becomes the person she does.  Each book will focus on a different stage of her growth, but the subplots will be the driving forces behind these stages.

     If this works out well, I will give it a shot with the Eye of the Vampire series that is still a WIP.  Maybe it will help me get past some of the hurdles that are making it difficult for me complete the edit of the first book and complete writing the second and third books.

     Off to the drawing board I go.  Wish me luck!

Image courtesy of dan

     After working on my vampire series for a little more than three years now, I am still only about 60% done with the first book in the series.  The story is done, but it still needs a good amount of editing before it is anywhere near ready for publishing.  The second book is only half written and I have about a quarter of the third book written.  But after all this time, I’m starting to feel like I might have missed the window of opportunity where this series was relevant.

     With the frenzy generated by the Twilight saga now over, are readers over the latest

Image courtesy of M – Pics

vampire fad?  The thing with fads, you need to catch the wave at just the right time or you’re sunk.  Did I miss my wave?  Or is it possible that if I work hard to get these books written, edited and published, that I will be just in time to hop on at the start of the next wave?  Or even be the catalyst that creates the next wave?  Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, because I don’t want my series being viewed through the Twilight microscope.

     I also have to consider the fact that this is not a classic series.  It is not something that will stand the test of time.  So when the time comes that I am ready to finally publish, I have to make sure that references to technology are up to date so that it doesn’t feel old when it is hot off the press.  I need to make sure that the story is still relevant.

     Then there is my other series.  A coming of age series that compares growing up with one of nature’s transformation processes; think along the lines of the ugly ducky becomes

Image courtesy of Adam Hickmott

swan, only I’m not writing about a “swan”.  The idea for this was conceived long before the vampire series but for some reason I had difficulty getting started.  This series is much more classic, focusing more on experiences and feelings that readers of any generation should be able to relate to in some form or fashion.  A month or two ago, ideas for the series were beginning to become something of a whisper in the wind.  Now, they are practically screaming at me, thundering in my head so loud that I can’t ignore them.  Whether I like it or not, my focus has now shifted to this series.

     I’m following the advice I have heard time and again and just getting the writing done, whatever it may be.  Instead of fighting to stay focused on the vampire series, I am doing the work for which inspiration has struck.  So many times, we look to our muses for inspiration, so how can I ignore it when it comes just because it wasn’t quite the inspiration I was looking for?

     My fear with all of this jumping around is that I will never complete a project.  How many novels will I start but never finish?  How many will I write that are left unpublished due to lack of editing and polishing?  

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick

     “Purple prose” is a term that I’ve recently become acquainted with over the last few months.  Naturally, with purple being my favorite color, I immediately thought this was a good thing.  But after reading a few reviews, I quickly learned that whenever purple prose was mentioned in a critique, it was most definitely not a good thing.  So, being the inquisitive person that I am, I went searching for the meaning.

     What exactly is purple prose and why is it such a bad thing?  The answer to this question will vary based on whom you ask.  In general, purple prose is a term applied to overly verbose writing, or as some call it, “flowery writing”.  It is when an author uses large words, for the sake of seeming more intelligent or goes into far more detail than necessary, coming across as melodramatic.  The term applies to any prose that pulls the reader out of the story and causes them to focus on the “offending” imagery.

     Have you ever been reading something and been completely rapt in the story only to come across a phrase or sentence that has your mind tripping over the words, completely breaking the spell?  If at any time you have found yourself saying “wait, what?”, you have been a victim of purple prose.  But because everyone’s mind works differently, what one person might view as purple prose, could be viewed as a vivid description by another person.

     So how can I, as a writer, avoid purpling my prose?  As I’ve mentioned several times before, the best way to improve your writing is to be an avid reader.  Think back to a book you were reading where you couldn’t help but roll your eyes and say “oh please!”  Or a time where you were yanked out of the story because the author unnecessarily used a word that is not commonly used and it did not offer any added value to the story.  Once you can identify these things, you can avoid making the same mistakes in your own writing.

     Another way to avoid purple prose is to remain true to your own voice.  Are you writing something that you would never be caught dead saying in real life?  Putting made up sci-fi or fantasy vocabulary aside, do you actually use these words in your day to day life?  Or are you just using it because you want your readers to view you in a certain light?  More often than not, readers can sense when an author is not being genuine and the last thing you want is for your readers to feel like you are putting on airs.

     So, a term that I once thought of as pretty, has taken on a whole new meaning.  Now when I think of purple prose, I can’t help thinking of the song “Flying Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley.  It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater…  Anyone else remember the movie with Neil Patrick Harris?  

Beware the purple prose!

Image courtesy of supakitmod /

     Sometimes I sit down to write and the words just come pouring out of me.  Other times, try as I might, I just can’t seem to get the words to come together.  So what changes from one session to the next?

     A few days ago, I read some notes that I had written for one of the series that I am working on and I got my answer.  When I write based on pure emotion, that is when I do some of my best work, when the words flow so effortlessly.  Is it technically perfect?  No.  There is always editing work to be done and punctuation and I have a bit of a love hate relationship.  But the content has more depth, allowing the reader to get lost in that emotion.

     Those times when I find it difficult to write are usually when I need to build a bridge connecting one swell of emotion with another.  The transitional passages are my weakness. The origin and the destination are both great, but the journey between the two leaves something to be desired.  The entire time I’m writing, my subconscious is asking “Are we there yet?” and the writing becomes robotic and lifeless.

     I think this is why I have been writing so much poetry lately.  Poetry, or at least my poetry, is all about emotion.  It is about laying my soul bare on the page for all to see.

     What is the driving force behind your writing?  What fuels you to write with abandon?