What is a Muse?

A muse refers to the nine Greek goddesses of inspiration in the arts and literature. It can also be used to refer to a real person who is a source of inspiration for someone. Or an ethereal entity that provides inspiration- a spirit, funneling in ideas from other dimensions or elsewhere.

This is an anti-muse rant, so be warned.

I personally don’t like to see people say “my muse is gone” when they’re not writing or “my muse gave me these characters” like someone is out there purposely pulling in these concepts from all over the world and tube-feeding it into your brain. Some people say that their muse is a separate entity, a person who is there with them while they write.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot be more alone than when I’m writing. I can’t be more mentally drunk and reliant on my own knowledge than when I’m knee-deep in words that need sorting out. There is no spirit feeding you ideas from another dimension, because all your ideas are grounded in common belief, reality or previously thought-up circumstances.

Nothing is new in writing. A muse is not your imaginary friend, a being to guide you and only you on your writing endeavors. If you can’t write, your muse isn’t stubborn it/he/she hasn’t left you. If you’re bombarded with ideas, your muse is not banging on your door, jamming concepts by the dozen into your mailbox, down your chimney and through every heating vent. That’s a little thing called your brain. And that just means it’s functioning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had moments of inexplicable inspiration with surprisingly effective ideas, but you can’t tell me that idea came from nowhere. You can’t tell me there’s absolutely nothing in your own life that’s contributed to this so-called epiphany. You make your own ideas and you choose to use them.

One of the many things that irks me about writers, new or not, is the “whinge now, write later” policy that seems to be so rampant. If you spent less time grieving your comatose muse and more time coaxing it back to animated life, maybe you wouldn’t have anything to complain about. If you can’t write, don’t. Just don’t sit there whinging about the ethereal woman who left you, taking all apparent ability and skill from you. If your muse is a real person, the same policy applies, probably doubly so.

I’d like to end this rant by saying my muse isn’t stubborn, I’m just not writing.

Loose vs. Lose

Do you remember those phonetics CD’s and TV shows and toys you used to play with when you were a kid?

You probably don’t if you’re still confusing loose for lose. The difference between how you pronounce lose or loose might account for the mix up, but regardless, these two words are not the same.

Lose

  • means to be without something, to have something taken away or to misplace.
  •  pronounced “looz”; the presence of only one ‘o’ means the word has a shorter sound, therefore ending on a ‘zuh’.
  • Examples include: “You’ll lose your job.”, “How do you lose a baby elephant?”, “The game. You lose.”

Loose

  • means slack, free from restraints, set free (“let loose”), or to unfasten or undo.
  • pronounced “loos”; the presence of two o’s makes a longer sound, stretching the word out with an ‘s’ at the end.
  • Examples include: “My belt is too loose.”, “I’ll take care of any loose ends.”, “Her hair was up in a loose bun.”

I once saw a sign for a weight loss program that asked if I needed to “loose” some pounds. If they claim to be able to loosen your excess weight, you might want to consider getting rid of it altogether. If in doubt, don’t use loose- unless you know what you’re talking about..

Then vs Than

I’m going to make this quick, because really, this shouldn’t be as frequent a problem as it really is.

Then- means later in time. For example, I’m going to the store, and then I’ll mail your postcard.

Than– means in comparison. For example, I have way more cats than Joe. Or: She’s crazier than I am.

The following sentences are wrong:

  • First I’ll punch his face in and than I’ll punch his face in.
  • I have way more monies then him.

Just a quick lesson, but please know what the word means before using it.

Show vs. Tell: Character State

Onto the ever-controversial “show not tell”. I can think of a few situations this writer’s “rule” would come in handy. The first one is character state. ‘State’ being emotion, physical properties, and personality.

Quick and simple examples for this below.

Emotional

Show “Jared clenched his fists, his whole face went red as he glared at Lauren.”

Tell “Jared was mad at Lauren.”

Show “Tim grinned at the audience, taking a bow before he headed backstage.”

Tell “Tim was happy with his performance.”

Physical

Show “Elaine towered over me, I had to tilt my head back to meet her gaze.”

Tell “Elaine was taller than me.”

Show “Marge held out a frail hand, her bones showing through the papery skin.”

Tell “Marge was thin and bony.”

These are the bare basics of show vs tell in showing character state.

This concept stops writers from relying on templates, or stereotypes, that flatten and dull their characters. “An old man hobbled into the store.” is distant. We don’t know this character, and we begin to assume one of several pre-determined personalities. That’s boring. I’ve heard plenty about Template A and B, that’s why I’m assuming it in the first place. I want a character that’s real and interesting, not pre-cooked mush.

Joe is tall. Well, who cares? How is this important? Does Joe tower over his wife, dwarfing her physically even though she wears the pants in the relationship? Showing means writers will be able to describe and move the plot at the same time. Instead of stopping to say Fred is mad, have him slam a door while he leaves a bar. Plot movement and description all in one, no boring descriptions to drudge through.

Now, I’ve pondered showing and telling enough to melt my brain. That’s good enough for today.

Next Show vs Tell will be about Setting.

How to Take Criticism Properly

If you’re in the business of any medium of art, you probably have to deal with people commenting on your work, whether it’s good or bad. There’s plenty of different kinds of critics, and plenty of people who categorize them into areas of right, wrong and rude. Something equally important and often ignored is how you handle the feedback yourself. Here are some notes on keeping your cool and staying thankful for whatever critiques you get.

Things to Remember When Reading Critiques

  • As long as it states why, you can’t discredit their feedback.
  • Someone spent their own time reading your work in an attempt to help you. It’s best not to be ungrateful.
  • You’re allowed to disagree with them, but you’re winning nothing by attacking their opinion.
  • Take only what suggestions you want and/or agree with. You’ll get nowhere if you try to please everyone.
  • Give it time. All revising requires a break period that lets you look at your story in a new, unbiased light.

I’m sure I’ll be adding points later, I hope you get the idea. Up next, in the near future, “How to Write a Critique Properly”.

I Would Of

It gives me the heebie jeebies to even see “I would of”. In everyday conversation, words can easily be misspelled because of the confusion between how they’re pronounced and how they’re written. When someone says they would’ve preferred an apple over a pear, they mean would have. Not would of. Not would ov. Not wood of.

Would’ve is the contraction to would have. This also applies to should’ve and could’ve.

The only time “would of” works beside each other like that is never. Actually, I lied. It works in this case.

“I would, of course, send you that pineapple, but I’ve eaten it.”

But seriously, of means pertaining to.

“I made a house out of duct tape.”

“I live south of Narnia.”

“Which part of the cake is a lie?”

“I’m going to die of boredom.”

These are the instances in which you can use of, just keep it away from would, should or could. Please.

Appetizers

How to begin, how to begin?

Well, this site is for purely selfish reasons. To rant and to ramble about all the things that circulate and recirculate the writing community like dead air. I’ll be posting about topics like fan fiction, plagiarism, showing vs telling and common writing mistakes that irk the hell out of me.

I’m a university student living in Ontario, Canada. I’m an amateur hobby writer who has recently stumbled upon the art of submitting for publication, so it’s still intimidatingly new to me.  I’ve begun to focus on fiction as early as this year. I like surreal writing, absurd premises with the occasional mix of horror or comedy.

Writerly Rants extends as far as my limited knowledge of the English language. Not every post will be accurate and most will be full of my own opinions.

 

Enjoy the ranting,

Emily Joyce