At our Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering this week, five established writers shared their top writing secrets and vocabulary words for this month. Now you can benefit from them, too!
- Find font symbols
- Write every day
- Find speaking opportunities
- Create an em-dash
- Association for mystery writer
- Product placement in books
- Vocabulary suggestions
- A.Word.A.Day link
1. Shayne Gardner — who just published Visualize Your Vocabulary: Turn Any SAT Word into a Picture and Remember It Forever (Volume 1) with illustrations by Kris Hagen — provided a tip about finding special font symbols on a computer.
According to Microsoft Word’s help function, “You can use the Symbol dialog box to insert symbols, such as ¼ and ©, or special characters, such as an em dash (—) or ellipsis (…) that are not on your keyboard, as well as Unicode characters.” Here’s how.
2. Patricia Hemes, a multi-published author of the Emma Dilemma series among others, suggested simply that if you want to be a writer, you need to set time to write every day.
3. She also asked about speaking opportunities in the Phoenix area, and we suggested she contact the National Speakers Association headquartered in Tempe, Ariz.
4. Laurie Fagen, co-author in SoWest: Crime Time, a Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Anthology (Volume 5), led us to a discussion about dashes. We differentiated these, and shared how to create them in Microsoft Word:
- Hyphen (-), used to connect words
- En-dash (–), for connection ranges or dates
- Em-dash (—), what most people call simply a “dash,” signifying a break in a thought or longer pause or interruption in dialogue
5. By the way, Laurie is the current president of the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths. This association for mystery writers meets the third Wednesday of the month at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in downtown Scottsdale, Ariz.
6. Ann Videan (that’s me), author of Rhythms & Music women’s novel and soundtrack, and The Delfaerune Rhapsody series, suggested authors look into product placement in your books to develop additional revenue streams. She explained that this simply involves mentioning brand names in your story and approaching the company about supporting the book for its publicity value to them. She recommended this HowStuffWorks article to learn more.
7. Our topic, vocabulary, helped unveiled several new fun words or phrases we can can all incorporate into our writing.
- brilliant: popular in the United Kingdom, meaning cool, great, or an outstanding performance, concept, or product
- mind the gap: a phrase to warn passengers to be careful while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform.
- go to the loo: an informal, more polite way of saying you’re headed to the bathroom, or going to the toilet
(From these first three, can you tell Laurie just returned from a trip to Europe?)
- kerfuffle: disturbance or fuss
- ostentatious: fancy, showing off wealth of knowledge to gain attention
- ambitious: desiring to be successful, famous, or powerful; not easily done or achieved
- grawlixes: typographical symbols standing for profanities, appearing in dialogue balloons in place of actual dialogue
- ar·sy–var·sy: backside forward, head over heels, topsy-turvy
- interrobang: a printed punctuation mark (‽), available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!), indicating a mixture of query and interjection
- histrionic: over-the-top melodramatic or theatrical
- opprobrious: expressing scorn or criticism
- disconcert: unsettle, disturb the composure of
(These last three are Shayne’s favorites from his new vocab book. Weren’t we lucky to have him attend today and share such cool words?)
8. For an introduction to a new word every day, complete with pronunciations, Laurie suggested subscribing to Wordsmith.org’s A.Word.A.Day.
Care to add your own tips or favorite words?