Tag Archives: read to write

#WW Writing Tips: Build Your Vocabulary

1 Jun

Vocabulary. It’s definitely a necessity for writing a book. A novel, after all, is written with words. It’s built on the structure, the sound, and the meaning behind every word you use, so naturally, building an extensive vocabulary is a vital aspect of every writer’s life. That being said, it’s not as easy as it sounds, and there are some controversial methods roaming around the #writingtips web-o-sphere about how and when and what tools to use when trying to ramp up your style. I agree with some and definitely disagree with others. Overall, I think naturally building your vocabulary from reading is key. This means you are reading everything and anything all of the time, and you’re taking notes about what you don’t understand so you will understand it next time. This also means that you’re not going through your manuscripts and replacing random words with more random words just to seem like a logophile. (Logophile n. A lover of words.)

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So how can you build your vocabulary both for yourself and for your work?

Here are some tips:

DO NOT USE A THESAURUS  I repeat, DO NOT USE A THESAURUS. Not mindlessly anyway. I find nothing wrong with using a Thesaurus to find new words and to study them (with a dictionary by your side), but I definitely think that reading a Thesaurus and writing a novel should be two separate activities. As an editor, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen a sentence that someone obviously used Microsoft Thesaurus on. Smile, grin, and smirk are three words that imply completely separate meanings when paired with the same dialogue, yet appear in every Thesaurus together. If you know that, why would you use a thesaurus to replace ANY word you aren’t 100% about? You wouldn’t. A Thesaurus provides SIMILAR words, meaning they have their own connotations, definitions, and effects on your piece. It can be a great tool when simply learning about new words, but you need to pair it with a dictionary and not immediately go to your manuscript afterward. In fact, never go to your manuscript afterward. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Now that we’re over that, I’ll move on.

1. Read More

Read. Read. Read. I cannot stress reading enough. Not only will reading help you build your vocabulary, it will also help you shape your voice, your plots, and how you write a novel in general (not to mention that it’ll keep you updated on what’s hot in the marketplace). There are millions of positive reasons to be reading, and literally no reasons to not be reading, especially if you’re an author. Read your genre, read outside your genre, and read things you never thought you would read. As an example, I went to study literature and fiction in college, but found myself drawn more and more to poetry. I never thought I could like it in my life, but that was because I wasn’t exposed to everything out there. Take that leap and discover something outside of your comfort zone. It might just change your life.

2. Pay Attention While Reading

It’s easy to get lost in the words—I mean, that’s half the fun—but try to pay attention. Slow down and soak up every word you can. If you come across a word you don’t know POSITIVELY, circle it. I say positively, because I think we all know we can figure out meanings to the sentence without knowing every definition—yeah, connotation!—but if you don’t know the word without that sentence, you won’t naturally use it again. By circling words you don’t know, you can come back and research them later. I actually do this with every book I read. I circle words, and when I’m done with the book, I research all the words or phrases I wasn’t 100% sure about. Then, I write them down in a notebook to study later. This helps me memorize and retain words I wouldn’t have known otherwise, and hopefully, my larger vocabulary will start to show over time. This does not mean you then go to your manuscript and try to fit these words in unnaturally. Please don’t. The idea is that you’re adding these words to your vocabulary naturally, so that when you are writing, they begin to shape themselves into your voice. Again. Write them down, study them, but don’t start forcing them into your work. If you do that, you might as well be using a Thesaurus. 😉

3. Keep This Method in Mind for Other Faults

Circle sounds you like. Circle phrases you enjoy. Hell, highlight entire scenes that caught you and kept you there. Figure out why you loved that scene. Was it the tension? What words made it tense? Why did those words make it tense? Study how connotation shapes the same words in different ways. Again, do not plagiarize. This is simply an exercise to get your brain moving. Example? Maybe a character put his hands in his pockets, then leaned back on his heels….and you’ve never thought about that movement before. (And we all know how important character descriptions get.) Keeping notes on little moments like these will get you to start thinking about little moments in your life, and hopefully, you’ll start noticing other real-life movements around you that you can then use in your story using your OWN voice to do so.

These are three ways to start building your vocabulary seriously. It might seem extreme to circle every word you don’t know, but it’s well worth it in the end. I find crosswords help me, too. (I love crosswords.) They force me to think of words I wouldn’t normally consider, and they often have me Googling if I couldn’t figure the answers out. I live, I learn, I write. And naturally, they all thread themselves together over of period of era….Oh, wait. I meant over a period of time. Silly, Thesaurus.

~SAT

teaser3Did you see this week’s Teaser Tuesday? If not, now you do! I hope you’re enjoying them as they release! I also hope you’re entering all the current giveaways!

Win a paperback of November Rain in this Goodreads Giveaway.

Win signed swag from The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods by signing up for the Bad Bloods Thunderclap and emailing me your support at shannonathompson@aol.com.

Read the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad. A new story is released every other Friday. In fact, one releases this week!

For Barnes & Noble’s first-ever national teen book fesitival, I will be signing books and hosting an author panel in TWO KC stores. Come see me on Saturday, June 11th in Overland Park, Kansas, or on Sunday, June 12th in Zona Rosa, KC, MO. More info can be found on my Events page.

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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February’s Ketchup

29 Feb

First thing is first, you can read my latest interview with Laugh Riot Press via their monthly newsletter, the Laugh Riot Report. We discuss writing tips, publishing tips, and how to market yourself while writing your next book. Read that by clicking here. (You don’t have to sign up to read the interview, but I highly suggest signing up for the Laugh Riot Report. Read more about it by clicking here.) Why should you sign up for this newsletter? Well, once a month, Laugh Riot Press collects 12 extremely helpful articles for writers navigating the self-publishing world. These articles are handpicked as leading information in the industry. I’m a huge fan of LRP…and on top of that awesome deal, they are hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of Workman’s Complication right now. Enter via Rafflecopter here.  

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This was one crazy (but short) month! Between radio interviews and book signings, I didn’t have a lot of time to sit down, but it was a wonderful problem to have.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up.” At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this February.

Big Moments:

I had a book signing in Barnes & Noble in Wichita, Kansas during the Romance Author Valentine’s Day Event! It was a blast and a pure joy to share the day with Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerJan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan. I even got to met a few dozen readers, and sitting down with you all is something I will never forget! I hope I can travel further and longer in the future to meet even more of you. Thank you for coming out!

Other than that, I had my first in-studio radio interview at Johnson County Community College. That was pretty crazy! That very day, Bad Bloods went up on Amazon, but the eBook won’t be up for preorder for another month or so. Out of celebration, I gave out the first sneak preview of Bad Bloods to everyone on my newsletter, and I received a lot of emails from you all expressing how much you’re looking forward to my next series! Thank you for your support and kind messages.

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

Top Three Blog Posts:

#1 referrer other than search engines was Tumblr

#1 referrer other than search engines was Tumblr

1. No. Reading is Not an Option: As a full-time editor and author, I have come across more and more writers who believe they don’t have to read in order to be a writer. I adamantly disagree, and I stand by my opinion—and Stephen King’s opinion—that you must read A LOT in order to be a writer. So go out there and fall in love with reading again.

2. How I Became a Full-Time Editor: Many of you have asked and I have finally answered. Long story short: I fell into it, but I give out a lot of tips on how you can pursue your dreams of becoming a full-time editor today.

3. Fandoms vs Mobs: I’m really saddened by how much fandom culture has changed. It’s more or less a mob now, rather than an exciting and supportive place for all types of fans to join together. This was my article addressing how we can get supportive again.

Other Blog Posts:

#1 SEO Term was Title Your Novel

#1 SEO Term was Title Your Novel

Choosing a Setting: It’s not that difficult! There are plenty of tools on in the Internet to help you.

Saturdate: Today’s Book Signing, The Infinite Sea, Shameless, and Puppy Chow: I had a book signing in a Barnes & Noble, which was way too much fun. I also read the sequel to a movie adaptation and discussed why sweets are the best.

Why Do You Read: I always talk about why I write, but I rarely talk about why I read.

Saturdate: Signed Books, Cherry Cookies, Everything, Everything, and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles: My weekly update included an opportunity to buy signed books of The Timely Death Trilogy, an awesome 2016 read, and a horror show based off of Lizzie Borden.

Music Muse and Tricks: This post covers how to trick your brain and get inspired by using music as a tool.

Authors I’ve Met Who Inspired Me: I have had the joy of meeting quite a few authors in my life, but I’ll never forget the first three authors who took time out of their day to sit down and talk to me about why I should never give up.

Saturdate: The 5th Wave, The Siren, Radio Interview, & Peanut Butter Cookies: I had a radio interview in a studio, which was pretty neat!

How to Use Real-Life Stories in Your Novel: I tackle an idea that seems black and white but isn’t always. Using real-life stories in your books can come with ethical issues and memory problems.

Website Wonders: A monthly classic

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#WritingTips No, Reading Is Not An Option.

17 Feb

As an author and full-time editor, I’m coming across more and more writers who don’t read their own genre, or—even worse—don’t read at all. There are generally two types of these writers.

1. Writers who claim to read but obviously don’t (and I’ll get to how it is obvious later).

2. Writers who haven’t read anything since they left high school twenty years ago.

Spoiler Alert: Neither of these options is okay.

Writers, please, oh please, you must read—and you must read often, especially in your own genre. As the famous Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” I adamantly agree with him.

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Reading is the foundation of writing. Much like how crawling helps a child learn how to walk, then run, and so on, reading helps a writer learn how to form sentences, structure a plot, and introduce something new and interesting to the market. That last one is a big deal (and I think the most overlooked one). This is also the main way agents/publishers/readers figure out you’re lying if you claim to read but you don’t. Recently, I was reading an article from an agent who was talking about his number one pet peeve in query letters. There is a huge trend in writers saying, “My work is better than anything X genre has ever produced.” This signaled to him that A. You don’t read X genre, and B. You don’t respect your own genre, fellow co-workers, or your readers. So why are you writing in this genre? He’s not the only one with this opinion either. Another article by Writer’s Digest pokes fun of this trend: 10 Ways to Never Get Published.

Constantly reading allows you to familiarize yourself with the genre and to see how the genre grows. As an example, I’ve seen MAJOR changes in young adult since I was fourteen. (And they are awesome changes!) But if I had stopped reading YA when I started seriously writing it, I wouldn’t know what readers are looking for. I wouldn’t know what has been done already. I wouldn’t know the appropriate language, word count, or topics/themes for that audience. I, basically, wouldn’t know anything. I wouldn’t have those “tools” Stephen King talked about in regards to writing.

So pick up a book. Pick up five. Try a new one, try an old one, try one you never thought you’d read, research the latest releases, talk to authors in your genre, study Writer’s Digest and Publishers Marketplace, and stay up-to-date on publishing conversations like #MSWL. Even if you’re not trying to get an agent or publisher, publishing feeds are great (and easy) places to read about current trends and market needs.

You’re not losing writing time by reading. In fact, you’re enhancing your writing by reading.

So go pick up that book you’ve been dying to read and fall back in love with reading all over again. After all, reading is the reason you started writing in the first place. Reading is why every writer started writing. Reading is why every writer can write.

~SAT

Have you checked out this amazing gift basket Clean Teen Publishing is giving away this month? It has over $130 worth of goodies including a Kindle Fire, several print novels, sweets, swag, and more! Enter to win here.

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If you would like a signed copy of any book in The Timely Death Trilogy, e-mail me at shannonathompson.com. Barnes & Noble in Wichita has a few copies left, and they will ship you one.

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1: FREE 

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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This THURSDAY, I will host #AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 7 on Twitter at 7 PM (CDT) via @AuthorSAT. I normally host it on Friday, but a few of you have expressed Thursday as a better day, so I will probably test out the next four episodes (7-10) on Thursday to see which days are best. I hope to see you there!

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