It is my pleasure to share a guest post from author E.S. Ruete, who gives...
Advice for writers
Write at the same time every day. I have friends who say they need to set aside a whole day to write, but they never do. One day very quickly becomes some day becomes hardly ever becomes never. But four o’clock – or whatever your chosen time is – rolls around every day.
Then pay attention to what to me are the four elements of good writing; voice, story telling, mastery of the idiom, grammar and syntax, in that order.
Voice is what turns words into conversation, dry black-and-white markings into something that carries the reader along. Listen to what you’re writing. If you don’t trust yourself to hear it in your head, read it out loud. If it doesn’t fall trippingly on the tongue, reword it.
Then you need to tell the story – even if it’s only the story of what went on during an experiment or the story of how to assemble a piece of furniture. All the good word usage and sentence structure in the world doesn’t help if you don’t know how to take the reader from point A to point B. As an associate editor of Group Facilitation I reviewed and ultimately rewrote an article that had flawless sentence structure and word usage, but all the sentences and paragraphs were just thrown down as they occurred to the author. They didn’t tell a story until I rearranged them.
It’s important to use some common sense when you employ the idiom. Nothing destroys my confidence in what a person is saying like misuse of the idiom. For example, how many people say “out of pocket” when they mean “out of touch, unavailable, out of the office, off the grid”? They are reaching for a hip phrase because they don’t want to sound pedestrian. But “out of pocket” means you had to pay for it and didn’t get reimbursed. You might or might not have been out of pocket when you were out of the office, but the phrases are not interchangeable. We think in language; sloppy use of the language shows sloppy thinking.
Grammar and syntax come last for me. The rules of writing are to help the writer avoid constructions that trip up the reader and get in the way of understanding. I think to a great extent they are replaced by voice. If I can hear what I’m writing and it sounds good, the writing is probably not going to offend too many English teachers.
And what is [written] well and what is [written] badly – need we ask Lysias, or any other poet or orator who ever wrote or will write either a political or any other work, in metre or out of metre, poet or prose writer, to teach us this?
– Plato, Phaedrus
by E.S. Ruete
Dottie woke up wondering where she was and why she was so cold. The first thing she noticed was that she must be outside – she was lying on cold ground and snow was hitting her in unusual places. That’s when she noticed the second thing. Her skirt was pulled up past her waist and her panties were gone. Damn those bastards. It started to come back to her.
Dottie is now on an odyssey; a journey not of her choosing; a journey of healing, integration, and reconciliation that will involve her partner, her friends, her enemies, her church, her whole community. And her rapists. As she fights her way through social stereotypes about rape and rape victims, she also finds the strength to overcome society’s messages of who she should be and lays claim her true self. But the memories, the loss, the anger – and the fears – never go away. No woman chooses to be raped. I asked Dottie why she chose to tell me a story of rape. She said that millions of women, hundreds every day, have stories of rape that never get told. She told her story because she could. Because she had to. Because maybe people would hear in a work of fiction a Truth that they could not hear in any other way.
Mostly what Dottie remembered is that they kept giving her choices. Blood or vaginal exam first. Left or right arm for the blood draw. Keep her clothes or change into the comfortable, impersonal sweats the SACC counselor had brought. Should they call her church. She tried to appreciate what they were trying to do. But I’m so tired, she thought, and still a little cold and god my headache is getting worse. And all these decisions don’t help. Didn’t I hear something on NPR about decision fatigue? Or something like that.
She remembered a book from her youth. The Captain. The new skipper of an ocean-going tugboat couldn’t handle all the arbitrary decisions, so he just alternated “yes” and “no” answers. It seemed to work for him. She tried it.
“Do you want soup?”
“Do you want coffee?”
“Do you want us to call someone at your church?”
“Yes.” Damn!! Did I just say that? I love those judgmental bitches, but they’re the last people I need to see right now.
She wasn’t doing much better when Mandy showed up and said all the wrong things. How could this happen? Why weren’t you more careful? Are you sure you weren’t at some level asking for it?
“NO! Why the hell would I ask for this? I don’t even like men!” SHIT! shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. She just outed herself to her church. She had a feeling the rape was going to start all over again.
The book is $0.99 during the tour (please check price before purchasing)
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
E.S “Ned” Ruete is an author, speaker, group facilitator, women’s rights activist, LGBTQIPA+ ally, lay preacher, guitar picker, and business analyst. He is the author of Seeking God: Finding God’s both/and in an either/or world and Lead Your Group to Success: A Meeting Leader’s Primer.
Now retired, Ned lives in Niantic, Connecticut with his second wife. He continues to offer pro bono group facilitation and facilitation training to schools, churches, community groups and not-for-profit organizations. He has led strategic planning retreats for United Action Connecticut (UACT), Fiddleheads Food Co-op, and ReNew London. He is actively involved in LGBTQIPA+ advocacy and annually attends and presents sessions at the True Colors Conference. He is a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) formerly served on the Association Coordinating Team (ACT, the IAF Board of Directors). He was associate editor of Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal and has contributed articles to Group Facilitation, The Facilitator, and other publications on group facilitation and management consulting.
Off Season is Mr. Ruete’s first fiction work
See his consulting products at MakingSpaceConsulting.com
and his books at MakingSpaceConsulting.com/Publish
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