Writing tips — much like inspiration — can be found almost anywhere. Every writer has thoughts on their craft and most are happy to share these. The late Elmore Leonard — author of numerous bestsellers, such as Glitz, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob, and Rum Punch — limited himself to ten. He wrote the following list to explain his writing and help others looking to improve their own work.
10 tricks for good writing:
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10 — If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
October’s meeting of the SWG will be based around writing tips. Members are asked to bring tips they’ve found helpful and share them with the group. (No limit on subject — structure, ideas, even scheduling/organizational tips are welcome — but please bring between two and five total. Thanks.)
Saturday, August 2nd was a big day — the official launch for Creepy Capreol: Chilling Tales From a Railroad Town.
Young Street was hopping all day, with hundreds of people gathered for Capreol Days. Vendors of all sorts were parked between King and Front — selling everything from food to jewellery. Things were just getting started when I arrived downtown at 9:30. I had a prime spot in front of Lynn’s Place and, with a few quiet spells, was kept busy throughout the day. In fact I sold an amazing 73 copies of Creepy Capreol! Of the original 120 I’m now down to 9 (I sold some before the launch and gave a few away). So it’s time to order more.
Capreol Days proved a big day for MadCap Publishing (my fledgling publishing company) in other ways too. CC sold extremely well, but even my older titles moved. Plus we received a full page spread in Saturday’s issue of the Sudbury Star — on Page 1 … of the Leisure Section. Bob Michelutti’s illustration looked great — I might cut it out and frame it!
Better still three of Creepy Capreol’s contributors made it out — Sudbury Writers’ Guild members Betty Guenette (with husband + dogs) and Lisa Coleman-Brown (and husband), plus former Capreol resident Jason Shayer (with his wife and kids). All three have now received their free contributor’s copy, and two got the original artwork for their story.
Fellow SWG member Renny Degrott-MacKinnon joined me to sell her book Family Business. She had a good day as well, selling nine copies and earning herself some fan mail.
Up next … Valley East Days in early September (Renny will be joining me there too) and the Terror Train/Fright Night events come late September through October. And maybe, maybe, a signing at Chapters and/or the City of Sudbury’s main library. Fingers crossed!
Tracy Pepper grew up in Hanmer. In 1985 she was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer and was not supposed to survive. Last year she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for ovarian cancer.
Here’s a link explaining her story: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/share-your-news-and-views/10231872/Cancer-survivors-drive-to-help-others
That accomplishment got her invited to contribute to a book project called Dreamers & Doers – inspirational stories of women who have climbed Kilimanjaro (see attached posters). Tracy loved the project because it supports another charity, every book sold buys a textbook for a child in Tanzania. They believe every child has the right to an education.
Tracy is now working with a charity in Tanzania and will be driving across Canada this summer collecting unwanted winter clothing for the porters of Kilimanjaro and school supplies for the Kilimanjaro Orphanage. She is also promoting this book and looking for businesses and book stores who would be interested in supporting this mission. Every book sold supports a charity that buys a textbook for a child in Tanzania.
Here’s a link to the video that explains the project.
Tracy will be at the Fromagerie on Elgin on Saturday, August 9 at 3:00pm to tell her story, sell some books, and collect donations.
Sudbury’s new Poet Laureate Tom Leduc is hoping to make a mark on the city. His initiative, Moving with Poetry (see attached poster), will put two unlikely things together: poetry and public transportation.
Soon the city’s commuters could be reading your creations. Those chosen for the project will see their writings posted on transit buses.
So, if you are a poet — or just love words — grab a pen and start composing. The topic is Sudbury. Submit an Ode to Ramsay Lake or an Elegy to the Fallen Water Tower. Write of your love for the black rock, sweet blueberries, or the bear that goes through your trash. Just capture a piece of the city — it’s feel, history, or people. It doesn’t even have to be poetry … short stories are accepted too (remember space is limited so keep them short!).
Link to poster for moving with poetry
Enjoy Jazz on Saturday night (July 26) and join us for Special Guest Poets the next day.
Sudbury Poet Laureates past and present will read from their works at the Gore Bay Harbour Centre on Sunday, July 27, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Hear Roger Nash (past President of the League of Canadian Poets & Inaugural Sudbury Laureate), Tom Leduc (current Poet Laureate of Sudbury & Sudbury Writers’ Guild member)
Plus Manitoulin poets:
Ron Berti (De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Storytellers), Fay Becks (Manitoulin Writers’ Circle), and Margo Little (Sudbury Writers’ Guild & Manitoulin Writers’ Circle).
Book Sale & Signing
More info 705-282-1714 or 705-282-2040.
Special Thanks to Ontario Heritage
PlaySmelter 2014 full releaseMatthew Heiti, Playwright-in-Residence at the Sudbury Theatre Centre and the man behind the very successful Playwright’s Junction, forwarded the following:
Click here for PlaySmelter 2014 full release
Sudbury, ON – From May 6– 10, four new plays will be given their first readings in front of a live audience as part of PlaySmelter, at the Jubilee Centre. Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Colleen Murphy will join local writers Karen Thistle, Jenny Hazelton, Jesse Brady and North Bay native Kristin Shepherd in this initiative, produced by Pat the Dog Theatre Creation. The series, now in its second year, offers the rare opportunity for an audience to get their hands dirty by participating in the development of these important works-in-progress. All readings feature performances by local actors, and will be followed by lively discussions, accompanied by delicious offerings from new Sudbury vegetarian/vegan hotspot, The HeartBeet Café.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS – playsmelter.ca
Tuesday, May 6th – Festival Kick-off – Playwrights’ Cabaret, a reading by Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Colleen Murphy.
Wednesday, May 7th – The Intermediaries by Karen Thistle. A young woman, facing the pressures of high school and growing pains, is entrusted with the care of the magical beings that inhabit Bell Park.
Thursday, May 8th – Dead Pan Land by Jenny Hazelton. Two people are drawn magnetically together. A riveting piece of physical theatre about the adventure of breaking free from the mundane day-to-day routine.
Friday, May 9th – Hope Op by Kristin Shepherd. A hilarious and poignant look at ageing. In their daily yoga class, four women plan a hostile takeover of a supermarket.
Saturday, May 10th – The Ballad of the Locked Out Gang by Jesse Brady. Mired in a long and bitter strike, a group of miners plot a daring gold heist.
All readings begin at 7:00pm at the Jubilee Centre (195 Applegrove). Admission to each evening is Pay-What-You-Can (suggested minimum $10).
The Festival will also feature Development Sessions for budding writers. During the afternoon of May 10th, from 2pm-6pm, instructor-led discussions will be offered on a variety of theatre creation hot-topics. Space in these intensives is limited, so please contact Matthew Heiti, at email@example.com for more information.
In just its second year, PlaySmelter is a grassroots festival that is getting attention from outside the city. In addition to the funders from the pilot year (including Ontario Trillium Foundation) who remain committed Pat the Dog can boast new and increased funding from Canada Council ($15,000), OAC Northern Arts ($12,500), Access Copyright Foundation ($7500). Supported by local partnerships with The Days Inn, The HeartBeet Café and STC, the Festival is quickly growing. “We are thrilled that these are both provincial and national funders,” says Pat the Dog’s Artistic Director Lisa O’Connell. “It is proof of the value of local art being created here in Sudbury.”
All dollars raised for PlaySmelter stay in Sudbury. This year, the Festival will hire more than 30 local Arts and Culture workers over the course of a month, and all are compensated based on professional union rates. Many of the writers have gained experience through the Playwrights’ Junction workshop at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. Several of the writers featured at PlaySmelter have gone on to be professionally workshopped, and one of last year’s scripts, Blind Nickel Pig, by Lara Bradley, will received its premiere professional production by Sudbury’s Encore Theatre Company.
Pat the Dog Theatre Creation www.patthedog.org is dedicated to the support and advocacy of playwrights and their plays, and is the only playwright development centre in Ontario open to both established and emerging artists. Pat the Dog has more than 300 members across Ontario and is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. For the past two years, PTD has been working to develop and promote Sudbury playwrights.
We here at the Guild try to encourage each other to write whenever possible. To that end we issue prompts once a year. These can be items — I wrote a funny story about demon babies and witches based on a such a prompt (a baby soother) — photographs, snatches of dialogue, or even randomly selected words/phrases. At our March 27th meeting (rescheduled to April 3rd) I offered the following exercise:
Gene Roddenbery, the creator of Star Trek, didn’t start out as a writer. He was a police officer for years before deciding that television was his true calling. Not having a lot of money or free time he couldn’t afford classes in writing so he taught himself using a simple trick — he watched TV. First he would watch with the sound off and try to write dialogue to fit the action. Then he would sit with his back to the TV and write action to the dialogue he heard. In that spirit I ask you to think of a favourite movie and write part of it (the opening, a favourite scene, etc.) in prose. Don’t mention what movie it is and see if we can guess the title just from the brief (500 word) sample. Below is an example I wrote many years ago — it’s a bit rough, but conveys the opening shot of one of my favourite movies (hint: it stars Richard Pryor, John Candy, and Hume Cronin).
The sun gaped like open wound in the sky. Bloated and sickly it hung against the washed out blue background. A blue only matched by overused urinal cakes, with not a porcelain white cloud in sight. What little warmth the gaseous orb shed fell limp upon the mostly yellow, threadbare grass.
That stretch of dying growth, which only a true believer would call an “out-field,” worked hard to make the shitty dirt look magical and inviting. Like every other aspect of the old ballpark, it failed miserably.
Crooked chalk baselines marked the field’s wobbly diamond. The fence, a collection of mostly vertical boards that had been painted years ago with a colour now little more than a memory, threatened to collapse with every stale breath of wind.
There were two dugouts. Twin pits not even fit for an animal. Both moldy. Neither had a working fountain … just rusting pipes that groaned and dinged before releasing a trickle of thick, disgusting slime.
Each dugout was built around a long bench, roughly cut pine, little more than a squared off log. The bench was a place most of the players were intimately familiar with, having spent plenty of time sitting on it – or others like it – throughout their careers. Knots covered its length, explaining why it hadn’t been cut for timber. Small holes marked where various species of insects resided … those that weren’t busy afflicting the players.
Behind the dugouts lurked the fans. A surly lot, more interested in the overpriced beer than the laughably inept action on the field, they jeered the home team and tried to find a comfortable spot in the unforgiving steel and concrete stands. Built to house six thousand, it echoed pathetically with a few hundred in the seats. The public address system screeched like a scalded cat, thankfully failing to convey the announcer’s incoherent ramblings.
All things considered, it was a ballpark worthy of the city of Hakensack.
None of this was noticed by the scrawny figure standing alone by the scared rubber of the uneven mound. Sixty-two feet six inches from home plate, give or take a foot, he was oblivious to his surroundings. Standing in a much-mended uniform, complete with a more pink than red bull rampant on his breast, he existed in his own little world.
Montgomery Brewster was unaware of the curses rising from the half empty stands or the obvious disrepair of the stadium around him. In his mind he was back at Wrigley Field pitching for the Cubs. Living, once again, the high life of The Show.