Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Notes From Carol's Class: -ly words a.k.a adverbs

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but here it is again.
-ly words. a.k.a adverbs

Speedily I drove through the forest.
I fell madly in love with her.
You're deeply troubled.
Happily. Scantily. Sillily. Terrifyingly. Un-happily.

Good writing uses few adverbs, and only necessary adjectives.
Now, most people know that when I'm marking on someone's manuscript I will circle ALL the ly words--even if it's family. This is because I have trained my eye to spot them right away and my fingers to wriggle the pen in a loop around those little letters at the end of words. I do it because Carol taught me to do it, and because I learned the importance of watching what words I use in my writing (and particularly what words others use in their writing)... :)

If you want to say something that uses an adverb, stop and think about different ways you could say it. The point isn't to avoid them completely--sometimes they're useful. But, if used too often they can really muddy a manuscript quickly and irritatingly so. Succinct = good. Use less words and see how it affects your writing. I'm a big fan of the saying "Less is More."

Write on!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Okay, here's my not-quite-one-page synopsis. If you have feedback, bring it on. I could really use it.

An angsty sparely told novel in verse, Some Secrets Aren’t Secrets, is the aftermath of an abusive situation gone terribly wrong. Sophie tells her story in present tense beginning with her first day at her aunt’s house after being separated from her little sister and moving on to problems at school with teachers and a girl at softball try-outs.

Sophie’s quirky and funny personality lightens up this book that is packed with emotions as it reveals bits of the past. Feeling isolated and misunderstood, Sophie is quiet, distant, and trying hard to keep her worst secret, but trying harder to forget the secret that was never a secret at all. When her secrets become too much to bear and the snotty girl at the softball try-outs pushes too far, Sophie’s emotions rage out of control until she almost repeats the crime her mother is in prison for.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Title For My Book

Up until now I have referred to my novel as Sophie's Secret.
I knew this could never be the title. Not just because an agent or editor would never have it--which they wouldn't--but also because it didn't ever feel right.
I couldn't title the book before now because I was missing something HUGE. I was missing the key line that would haunt my book and my readers forever. And now I've found it. More bone-chilling (at least to me) than my hard-hitting climax, is my section titled "Some Secrets Aren't Secrets."

And, because of this section that makes me ache ache ache, I've found my title--at least the right one for me, if not for the agents and editors and publishers who still don't know me yet.

Some Secrets Aren't Secrets

maybe in a couple years you can look for it on shelves in bookstores.
Or maybe if anyone decides to take on this book of mine, you'll just have to look up my name instead.

T.A. Demings--in case you forgot. :)

Write on!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

25 Words Or Less

Notes From Carol's Class

Okay, This week I'm supposed to write a one-page synopsis of my book. I have to have it by the end of the week for my special WIFYR Assistants meeting in which we will critique each other's synopses and queries. Oh yeah, I have to write a query, too. So, I'm a little stressed out. And I'm thinking, how am I going to do this? I've tried before and never got it right and never got it right and never got it right. But I was thinking, what would Carol say about this?

She probably has more to say than I can remember--especially in my frantic state--but, I remember one thing she used to make us do in class, and that was to write our novel in 25 words or less.

When 14-year-old Sophie Baretsky is separate from her little sister, everything goes wrong and Sophie doesn't know how long she can keep the secret her mother swore her to. 29

not bad, but not so great either.

Stuck in a small town, unable to see her little sister, 14-year-old Sophie becomes the troubled teenage everyone expected, but what they didn't know is Sophie committed the crime her mother is in prison for. 35

ten words too many

When nobody will listen to 14-year-old Sophie--not even after her mom goes to prison--she begins to lash out until she can't keep her secret any longer. 28

better, but doesn't really do it justice does it?
See, why this is so hard??

Maybe I should write it the way Sophie would?

Small town. Crazy aunt. Mom in prison. Nobody listens. Until 14-year-old Sophie almost kills someone else. 16 --how's that? better?

Can you do it? Write your novel in only 25 words.
Stay tuned. I'm gonna post my query and my synopsis later this week when I get them. I'm sure they'll be bad, but maybe you lovely readers can help me out :)