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Leonard David Raymundo fewer words

How Fewer Words can Make a Bigger Impact

Less is more is always true when it comes to the art of writing. Whether it’s a note to your boss, or a full length science fiction novel, finding ways to make a big impact with few words is always better.

When it comes to writing fiction, it can be overwhelming given the endless possibilities that come with developing a story, and with those countless options, one is bound to make mistakes here and there. It’s natural. Writing isn’t as easy as it seems on the surface. A great way of attracting a reader’s attention however, is harnessing the less is more concept.

When writing short stories, you are a little more limited in what you say and how you say it. This stresses the importance of engaging readers even more. Keep in mind that less can in fact mean more, so focusing too much on certain details like color and meaning, or using unnecessarily complex vocabulary may hurt your story.

Take the characters of your piece into consideration. Seeing as you’re dealing with a limited amount of words, you’ll want to effectively detail each of their personalities without wasting too much dialogue. A great way to do so is by utilizing gestures. For example, a quarterback heaving the football toward the end zone in the final seconds of the game could be followed by him being carried out of the stadium by the fans. Without describing who or how the ball was caught, the reader knows that a touchdown was thrown, and the game was won.

As stated by Writer’s Relief, the setting of a story can, and usually is just as important as the plot and characters. By describing where the story is taking place, what the weather is like, and in which season we are in, you can adequately paint a picture in the readers’ minds, as well as convey the mood of the story. For example, the quarterback who scored the winning touchdown could be on a muddy field in a downpour to detail tension, and the possibility that the game could be won or lost. Perhaps during that last drive, the clouds began to clear, signifying a comeback in the making.

Clothing is another great way to effectively tell the reader what the personality of a certain character is like, and even provide certain insights into the plot of the story. Continuing with our football example, without ever mentioning the fact that the main character is a quarterback, you could describe the numbers on his jersey and his varsity jacket while nervously waiting for the bell to ring.

Whatever tactics you choose to use in getting your point across in as little words as possible, be precise. Dialogue is absolutely crucial in driving the plot and developing the characters. Using brevity in your work allows you to explain your story without having to go back and elaborate on previously mentioned information.

 
Always remember, when it comes to writing, short and sweet is the way to go.

Leonard David Raymundo books

Top 5 Books of 2016

If you’re anything like me, part of your New Year’s Resolution involved reading more books. Studies and personal experiences show that people who read regularly tend to be more intelligent, empathetic, and happier. Reading more (and I don’t mean your Facebook feed) will open yourself up to viewpoints you never would have considered before. There are so many genres to choose from, that it’s nearly impossible to not find a book that peaks your interest. Some people say they don’t like reading, but that’s probably because they haven’t found the right book yet. If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some of the top books from 2016.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Set in the 1960’s, this novel follows the plight of a family after two marriages fall apart and then a blended family comes out of the ashes. Taking place over the rest of their lives, it’s often difficult to know exactly what happens, as the reader observes the family from the outside, hearing pieces of gossip and different perspectives of events that tells the story of a family that deals with job and tragedy, including the death of a child.

The Return by Hisham Matar

Written as a memoir, this book tells the tale of Matar’s father, who was arrested in Egypt and sent back to Libya. He was then placed in a prison where letters were occasionally smuggled out to Matar, but they stopped coming after a few years. Matar, his brother, and his mother immigrated to America, where his father’s absence haunted him for the rest of his life. The memoir gives insight into these events and also covers his return to Libya, where he attempts to discover what happened to his father.

Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

A poignant novel examing the personal lives of several Russians as the Soviet Union dissolves. This novel vividly describes the experiences of people stuck in this country as drastic change takes over. Instead of approaching it from a historical point of view, Alexievich chooses the tell the story through emotions and memories. A reader feels connected with the characters as the novel gives deep insight into their struggles and triumphs.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This novel features two timelines that alternate between the narrator working as a personal assistant to a celebrity who wants to establish a school in Africa and the narrator’s childhood, when she became friends with a biracial girl, which ends in friction between the two girls. The novel offers interesting insights into race and class issues that most readers will find engaging.

The Girls by Emma Cline

The story follows a lost teenager, Evie, who searches for a place she can belong, which leads her to join a cult eerily similar to that of Charles Manson. The story is told from the perspective of an adult Evie, who cannot come to terms with how close she came to taking part in a horrific murder. This book will definitely make you shiver.

Leonard David Raymundo novel

3 Things That Will Hurt Your Novel

Creativity can bring out a person’s greatest ideas, or their worst, and deciphering the former from the latter can be tricky. Many novels have failed throughout time because of a writer’s inability to expand on his or her original ideas, or producing content that is just not appealing. Below are a number of common mistakes novelists make that inadvertently dooms their works, with many of them not even knowing it.

Expecting inspiration to come to you

There are countless articles online when searching for writing tips that advocate the idea of inspiration being a free-flowing, natural concept that magically hits you when you least expect it. While this is typically rare, it can happen. However, in order to write a novel with purpose, consistency, and engaging content, relying on this strategy will almost ensure problems at some point in your writing process.

A flash of a great idea can come to you in an instant, that is true, but seeing that as the only thing to base your novel off of is foolish. This will usually give you a hefty 10-20 pages of great content, only to lead to a slump in your creative mind. When seeking inspiration, establish a writing quota. Give yourself a specific number of words that you think you can accomplish in a day’s work. You’ll typically find that, in order to delve into your story’s details, you will have to go well over the number you originally set.

Constant self-criticism

It’s healthy to be critical of your own work from time to time. This allows you to correct mistakes that you may have glanced over before, or rework sections of your piece to better suit the story as a whole. However, constantly worrying about how your novel might be perceived by others and doubting your abilities as a writer will only prove your negative thoughts true, and can even develop into a fear of finishing said novel.

A simple way to overcome this is to just write. Even if what you come up with on the spot isn’t what you had in mind, continue to expand on those ideas. This can kickstart your brain into a frenzy of creative flow. Devote 5 minutes of your time to non-stop writing. Within these 5 minutes, don’t even think about what you’re writing. Just write. A similar strategy would be the page-long sentence exercise. Choose any subject that you can think of and attempt to write the longest sentence you can. These practices can effectively silence your inner critic and get your words down on the page.

Not accepting criticism

 
Furthermore, writers that cannot accept criticism from others, and see that as an insult or an attack, will hinder their growth as a novelist. Don’t expect every story you come up with to be loved by all. All great writers have, at some point, written less than impressive pieces. When a reader or fellow writer suggests a different approach toward a certain aspect of your story, understand that they are doing so with good intention. Learn from every mistake you make when constructing a novel, and see total rejection as a motivation to write even better, though it may sting at first. Don’t let anything of the sort stop you from writing altogether. Quitting is far worse than finishing a work you aren’t completely happy with.

Leonard David Raymundo holiday writing

Writing During the Holidays: Mission Impossible

For writers who wish to continue their passion despite time consuming obligations, coupled with large gatherings of friends and family members, the journey is quite the challenge. Rather than accepting the fact that finding a suitable environment to develop creativity is hopeless, it’s probably best to get creative in that sense. It’s more important than ever to think of new ways to generate creativity and spark your imagination.

Finding the time to sit down and write during periods of constant commotion can be a hindrance to any writer, even outside of the holiday season. One thing I’ve found that works wonders, is other than simply leaving the room, try experimenting with different writing mediums. If you’re someone who typically writes on a laptop, consider having a journal nearby. Writing by hand when you’re used to typing can bring about a surprisingly dramatic change in your thought process. Even more so, switching to mobile to finish a thought or sentence can give clarity, as well as give you a decent excuse to step outside for a moment. I prefer apps that can seamlessly save my notes between my phone and laptop.

Write something that’s outside of your comfort zone. Sticking to your normal creative process time after time can actually regress your creativity. If you feel that the subject you’re covering in that moment is lacking in passion or just doesn’t have the feel you were aiming for, scratch it. While this may seem like a waste of time, continuing to force the scene can actually waste more time, in addition to creating a scene that you’d rather not include in your piece.

If you’d prefer not to scrap an entire scene, take a break from that and writing something completely different. This can be a journal of your thoughts, a documentation of those around you, or an entirely different piece of literature. The goal is to give your mind a break from the task at hand while still keeping the creative writing juices flowing.

Keep in mind that during the holidays, you may be around a lot of people. Writing, in a sense, is about people. Find inspiration in your surroundings and expand on any ideas you come up with. Do you have an aunt or uncle that had one too many cocktails? Could their now impressive change in speech volume translate to a characteristic for the antagonist of your story? Ask your friends and family members if they have any stories they’ve failed to tell you in the past. Anything new can help. Despite potential distractions, thinking of new angles could be slightly simplified with the added crowd and noise.

 
When all’s said and done, continuing to write while the holiday season is in full swing can be tricky. The strategies mentioned above can certainly help, but don’t limit yourself to just those. Being creative means thinking for yourself, ignoring doubt, and above all else, applying yourself. So, during your family Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa party, rather than feeling overwhelmed, embrace the chaos and let your writing immerse itself.

Leonard David Raymundo writing techniques

Unique Copywriting Techniques

There are so many people writing blog posts and articles online that sometimes it feels overwhelming to try and start your own website or get your name out there. While this concern is a valid concern, trust me when I say there are also lots of ways you can make your content stand out to readers. You shouldn’t aim for just “content”, you’ll want to make posts that engage readers and make them feel as though they’re having a conversation with you; content that people can relate to. To help you out, I put these tips together to help you make unique content that will not only engage them, but help them connect with your posts.

Offer something exclusive

Let’s face it, everyone loves free. Research proves that consumers love being offered exclusive deals. If you’re trying to sell a product with your writing, offer limited time promotions that readers can learn about or place a discount code somewhere in your article. People are much more likely to come back and keep reading the articles you write, if you give them a tangible reason for a return visit.

Profit from weird

Weird is subjective, so let’s just say that readers like content that stands out from the rest. People are drawn to out of the ordinary facts or stories, and if you can relate it to what you do for your blog, you’ll have your readers hooked. Perhaps it’s the kid in us wanting to stay up to listen to ghost stories, but there’s a certain novelty to hearing a truly weird and unique stories that readers love.

Use strong adjectives

Instead of using common adjectives like “pretty” or “interesting” work toward using strong adjectives like “stunning” and “fascinating”. You’ll be more likely to engage people with language that is unusual. Reading the same descriptive words over and over gets boring, so spice it up a little!

Look out for trends

One of the best ways to get ahead with content is staying on top of the trends in your field. If you can offer readers information before your competition, they’ll rely on your posts to give them up-to-date news on the latest trends. And knowing first is half the battle, right? You can even hype up a product or service you like and possibly turn it into a trend yourself!

Encourage reader participation

People on social media love using things like hashtags, memes, and puppies. If you can find a way to incorporate popular trends into your content and encourage reader participation, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. Ask readers to tag you or hashtag posts that relate to your content, then feature them in a follow-up post. If you have the means, you can even host a giveaway, which really engages readers.

Craft your voice

Once you find the tone you want to convey in your writing, stick with it. Try to find something that fits your personality and stands out from other writers. Find what inspires and motivates you. Maybe you want to use humor in your writing, or keep a positive and upbeat tone. You can style your voice any way you want and make it completely unique to your writing, so your readers feel as though your content is familiar and they can connect with it.

Leonard David Raymundo visual writing

Visual Writing: Painting a Mental Picture

Captivating your audience as a writer can be fairly difficult due to a number of factors, including the topic of the piece, the attention span of the reader, and most importantly, the style of writing. An effective way to attract readers and inspire them to continue reading is writing visually, and by that I mean creating images within the heads of those reading simply through your choice of words.

A definition of “good” visual writing would be painting mental pictures in your audience’s minds without them even realizing you are doing so. In order to engage your readers, they’ll want to be able to see the action taking place in their heads. However, don’t have the mindset that bigger is better. More action, violence, or drama in general doesn’t necessarily translate to visuality. Focus on the detail of every scene in your narrative. This includes things like the set, symbol, and characters.

The line “It was nighttime when I awoke.” gives little insight as to what the character is actually seeing in that moment. As the narrator, imagine yourself in that position, and expand on what could possibly be seen. This line could convey much more visuality if it were to say “I awoke to a dark room dimly lit by moonlight, with shadows cast by the items on my desk next to the window.” Already the audience has an idea of what that room looks like, and can put themselves in that position.

Symbols and motifs are also great ways to further describe each scene. The items on the desk mentioned above could be better detailed depending on the mood. If this is a horror story for example, the character could describe seeing the silhouette of a doll standing on the desk casting a shadow, when the doll was previously on the floor before he or she fell asleep. Or, if you would prefer to be a little less obvious, the doll could be a recurring theme that symbolizes a specific thought the character is having about another character in the piece.

Another aspect of visual writing to consider is the depth of emotion that you wish to channel in any given scene. Things to play off of can include the focus of a specific image, duration, already connected emotions, and the genre of the piece. For example, in a dramatic play, describing a moment where the main character is looking at a picture of his or her deceased father, and going into great detail as to what he or she is seeing, feeling, and hearing in that instance can perpetuate the anguish of the piece.

It is important to remember that images are subjectively interpreted. Asking a large group of people to describe a tree for example, will result in possibly hundreds of variations. The same can be said when asking that group how a specific image of a tree makes them feel. Some may react positively, while others react negatively. With that said, it is not an easy task composing a picture that you want to convey one single emotion, but focusing on that picture with words that give emotional context can help.

While stories are typically comprised of a beginning, middle, and end, it’s the scenes in between that build each. Visual writing is vital in establishing characters’ motivations, the theme, and the plot as a whole, and could spell the difference between a subpar story, and a great story.

Leonard David Raymundo

Writing with an Audience in Mind

Imagine you’ve just been in a car accident. An aggressive introduction, I know, but hear me out.  Now imagine explaining how you’ve just been in a car accident to your family. It would differ greatly compared to how you would explain the situation to your friends, right? You would put emphasis on certain details that might make the story much more exciting, whereas, you might leave out things that would otherwise worry your family members. Knowing which audience to appeal to is a key tactic in writing, and can greatly enhance your writing skills in general.

This line of thinking could apply to any number of concepts or ideas, but for writers it is absolutely necessary to ask yourself “Who am I writing for?” Are you attempting to appeal to one specific individual, a small audience, or to the entire internet? Does this person or crowd already have a vast knowledge in the field you’re covering, or are you explaining something new to them? All of these factors should play a role in how you write, and what you write.

When drafting emails, letters, or other direct forms of communication, it may be obvious who you are writing for. It’s much more likely that you’ll write more informally in this circumstance, but be careful. Consider the possibility that multiple people may be viewing this document. If there’s even the slightest chance that a person who you view from a professional standpoint may see your email or letter, write with that person in mind. Avoid slang and incomplete sentences, and maintain a certain amount of civility. The same can be said when creating reports, strategies, or marketing ideas within a company, for example. It is crucial to write with professionalism, as these pieces will more than likely be seen by corporate, or an executive board.

Basically, if something you write could be seen be the owner of the company you work for, you should write as if he/she is right there in the room with you.

Writing for a blog on the other hand, can be a little trickier, or easier, depending on your approach. This can be as formal or informal as you’d like considering your intended audience. The same questions can be asked beforehand when deciding on the tone of voice to use. Who are you writing for, and what are you writing about? Is your audience mostly experts, or beginners that need explanation? The great thing about writing for personal blogs is the freedom you have regarding the style of writing. However, if you’re aiming to grow a large following of readers, you may want to practice consistency, conciseness, and clarity for their convenience. A well written piece with just the right amount of flair in vocabulary can appeal to many people.

Before you sit down at your computer, or at your desk with a pen and paper, depending on your means of written material, always take into account the intended audience. Writing with a certain level of casualness can backfire in professional settings, and the opposite can be said for more informal settings. Knowing how to appeal to a crowd is essential when writing, and is a mutually beneficial method in all environments.

Writer'sBlock

5 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Your calendar just cleared for the weekend, and that excitement of sitting down to write starts to build. You wake up, make your coffee, walk your dogs, before finally opening up your laptop with the intention of using your time to hammer away at that manuscript you’ve talked about since forever.

Except, when it comes time to actually move your fingers to start writing, you hit a wall. You stare at that blank word document, searching for answers that may or may not come.

It’s a feeling that all writers have come across at some point. With writing inevitably comes moments of stagnancy where you feel as though every ounce of creativity you ever had has been completely exhausted. Writer’s block affects almost everyone whose interests lie within a pen and paper. This temporary inability to think can be caused by fear of critique, wanting to create something perfect, or simply a lack of motivation. Here are a few techniques to aid in getting out of this creative slump.

Get up and move

It may seem simple, but going for a leisurely stroll around the block can do wonders for one’s mental clarity. Walking and physical activity in general reduces stress, relieves anxiety, and boosts creativity. If there happens to be inclement weather that day, try yoga, or other meditative practices. The trick is to clear your mind. Sitting around your desk wallowing in self-pity from your lack of imagination will only worsen your writer’s block.

Change your environment

Many writers tend to lose motivation over time from a stale environment. A writing area that remains unchanged for years can easily turn into a place of dread if you begin to associate that area with negativity, regardless of aesthetics. Rearrange the layout of your desk or of the room entirely. Add a few plants, paintings, or candles to inspire yourself, and create a whole new atmosphere that feels different. If you’d prefer to leave your current area of creativity as is, even writing outside or in a different room can be the environmental change your mind needs.

Freewrite

Writing when you’re experiencing writer’s block may seem counter intuitive. One simple solution is to write about just that. Describe your feelings about your current situation, and expand on the frustration of not being able to write in general. An alternative to this method would be to look around the room and write about what you see. Though it may feel forced, getting your pen moving can actually promote mental activity, leading to a wider range of thought.

Indulge in another form of creativity

Your temporary absence of thought when writing could be limited to just that. Direct your creativity towards another hobby like painting, playing an instrument, building a house of cards, or cooking, for example. The key is to keep the creative part of your brain active regardless of the task. Focusing on other art forms could put an end to that mental pause, and get you back into the flow of writing.

Eliminate distractions

Common causes of writer’s block are consistently checking one’s phone, surfing the internet, or constant interaction with others. Anything that can direct your attention away from writing should be considered a distraction, and should be set aside for the time being. Turn off your phone, unplug your internet connection, and lock the door. While you may feel like a bit of a recluse, disconnecting yourself from the outside world can help your brain tap into its most creative portion.

Writer’s block can truly discourage those who believe the pen is mightier than the sword from thinking so. Do not let this pessimism consume you. Try some of the strategies listed above if you’re experiencing a creative deficit to keep your pen or pencil moving.

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Welcome to Leonard David Raymundo’s blog about creative writing, literature, and more. Come back soon.

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