Magical Words: Motivation (D is for Diver)

Photo by Ricky Shirke on Unsplash, meme words added by Erin Penn

The admonition of the meme is harsher than my normal, but I think the picture captures the base of it well. The dancer works to have her body respond elegantly and swiftly to the dance requirements. Her workouts don’t only include the present dance, but other muscle memory building techniques, stretches, balance, movement, and freezes.

Writing is the same. It can’t be a sometime thing. It can’t be put off until tomorrow, and then tomorrow again and then tomorrow again. A to Z blog tour can help break the cycle of “I’ll find time to write tomorrow.” Writing muscles – from speed of typing, creative flow, self-editing as you go, having the characters actually talk to you, grammar and paragraph flow, and dozen of other techniques and skills, need constant work. Of course sometime life interferes, just like sometime a dancer can’t dance.

I’ve been a better writer. I write faster and more, when I write daily. It’s what works for me. A doctor-author-friend can only write on weekends; this method works for him. What writing exercise builds your muscles and gets you to your goals, that is the path you need to dance on.

I got the meme words from Lucienne Diver in her Magical Words post from October 3rd, 2012, “Motivation”. The URL is:

Memes: Writing Advice (Two)

During the Saga Professional Writer’s Conference (, I got inspired to make writing advice memes and did so immediately when I got home. I then proceeded to release them during the A-to-Z blogging challenge in April ( But it is time to collect them all in one place.

My previous Meme packages:
Write Something (6/30/2016)
Write Something (Two) (10/2/2017)
Write Something (Three) (10/4/2019)
Write Something (Four) (11/10/2021)
Writing Advice (3/29/2022)
Political Memes (1/31/2023)
Writing Advice (Two) (8/29/2023)


W is for What’s Your Damage

Meme created by Erin Penn

Today is the last of the SAGA Professional Writer’s Conference memes. If any of them sparked interest in SAGA, you can find out more about the annual conference at: The next one is scheduled for Winston-Salem in July 2024.

The full list is:
1. Enter Late, Leave Early
2. Give Your Characters Trouble
3. Better Verbs Make Better Writing
4. Everything you want is on the other side of fear
5. What’s Your Damage?

These were supported by other memes I’ve made: Don’t walk through doors; You are my Favorite character, I’m going to hurt you the most; Write with Style; Don’t get it right, get it written; The secret to writing fiction is always tell the truth.

What’s your damage? is a question you need to ask your hero. What is the shard of glass, the dagger in their belly, that makes them make wrong, or at least less than optimal, decisions? What makes them not perfect?

The damage which makes a person depend only on themselves, so doesn’t ask for help even when they should, because as a child they couldn’t trust their parents. The damage of a trick knee, so they can’t run, but they insist on coming to fight the monster anyway.

In Honestly, my hero has injuries making him weaker than pictures himself, and my heroine is still living with her last (ex-) relationship in her head. I really should have played with their damages a bit more, but the novelette is my first completed work. I learned a lot writing it.

You might not need to ask the point-of-view character What’s Your Damage until the first draft is done. Then you go back and hone the story, sprinkling the emotional journey throughout. Do they learn something that will heal their Damage? Do they learn a workaround to bandage the Damage for now?

The Damage is important. It makes the hero not-perfect. It makes them real. The Damage is what makes a story of Dragons and Wizards, of Spaceships and Blasters, of Love-at-first-sight and Billionaire-loving-Waitresses real. Damage pulls genre into reality.

Meme created by Erin Penn

O is for Other: On the Other Side

Meme created by Erin Penn

During the SAGA Professional Writer’s Conference in 2023, Gail Z. Martin quoted a motivational speaker, saying the words changed her life. I webcrawled until I found the original speaker then made a meme with the appropriate attribution. It was the first of the memes I envisioned during the conference, down to what the picture should look like.

That is always the problem with meme creation, finding the right picture. I was ecstatic when I found the fissure against the fire background. Exactly what I wanted.

Now onto why acknowledging fear is good writing advice. “You can’t write a novel.” because it will impact your social standing, or your ability to make a living, or is too hard and there is a chance of failure. Each of these arguments are based in fear. Because, really, you can write a novel.

It might not be a good novel, but if you want to write a novel, stringing together enough words is the only requirement. Making something good enough to sell is a different issue, but if you WANT to write a novel, there is no deadline, no judge, just time spent doing what you WANT to do.

Anything you WANT to do is possible. Want a new job, then job hunt. Want a vacation – maybe Cancun isn’t in the budget, but a beach vacation is within reach.

Now, you might not WANT to do the work. Writing a novel is lot of work, but don’t let anyone say you can’t when you are capable of writing.

Also remember writing is a learning process. No one masters a job in one year. A person goes through years of training in normal school, then months of specialized training, then “probation” on the job. And still it is three-to-five years before you are really, really good at it. The first novel will suck – it may be possible to polish it to good – but the first draft of the first novel is going to be bad as the first picture you ever drew. You know, the one with your mom’s arms growing out of her neck.

Still, first that first draft of that first novel.

If that is what you WANT.

Meme created by Erin Penn

M is for Make: Better Verbs Make Better Writing

Meme created by Erin Penn

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know about copulas – the “to be” verbs which are harbingers of passive writing. Being a good writer’s conference, the topic came up a couple times at SAGA ( Michael Mammy captured its essence during the afternoon presentation on Pacing and Structure with “Better Verbs Make Better Writing.”

He also said “More problems, more better.” Which is the essence of Give Your Characters Trouble, but not every piece of advice is a gem, or meme-worthy.

Back to BVMBW: verbing makes better writing because the verbs drive the action. Don’t be “run fast” – instead “dashed” or “rushed”. Don’t go all “spoke softly” but “purred” or “mumbled”.

That being said, don’t spend the First Draft figuring out the perfect word. That is for Draft Three. Draft Two is getting all the scenes to actually flow together, adding and subtracting or just moving large swaths of the manuscript. Once you know what is actually happening, verbs can be polished.

Two fixes are (1) do a search on “was” and “were” for the entire manuscript and cut that number by a third. (2) every paragraph switch out one verb/adverb for something stronger or more specific.

Below is another meme I made a while back. Write with Style. Because, you know, better writing is just sexy.

Write with Style

Meme created by Erin Penn