Tag Archives: citing your sources

Random Thoughts on Writing #amwriting

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t review books I don’t like. So, without naming names, let’s talk about why some books are not on my review list.

WritingCraft_lazyWritersPassive phrasing: If you watch them in real life, people don’t “begin” to pick up that knife. They don’t “start” to walk away.

They reach for the knife. They take the knife from the drawer.

They walk away.

We’re thinking and writing the story as it falls from our heads. Because we get into storytelling mode, the dog begins to bark, and the neighbors start to complain. In real life, the dog barks, and the neighbors complain.

When you write with a passive voice, it’s easy to use too many quantifiers, such as “it was really big” or “it was incredibly awesome.” It becomes easy to “tell” the story instead of showing it: “Bob was mad.”

Then there is the opposite extreme, showing far too much.

Some authors have been told their prose is passive and are desperate to avoid that. But they have a lot of detail they want to convey, so they resort to clumsy lead-ins and awkward descriptions. This only announces that a lengthy exposition is forthcoming. 

Please, don’t use a phrase like: “She felt her eyes roll over her host’s attire” and then follow it with a paragraph describing the host in microscopic detail. That unfortunately phrased sentence is one of the less obnoxious lines from a book I was unable to finish reading several years back. It stuck with me because the paragraph that followed it was so awful.

Nothing gives me the creeps more than a 250-word description of eyeballs independently rolling up and down and all over a purple velvet suit of dubious origin. I could see what the author was trying to say, but the host’s suit was the least of the travesties in that train wreck: most people’s eyeballs do not leap from their head and roll over anything.

Instead, they could have written the entire 250-word encounter this way: Vincent wore a suit of purple velvet, threadbare, and looking as if it came from his grandfather’s closet.

It’s a struggle sometimes, but we must try to slip descriptions into the narrative in less obvious ways.

Some authors swamp the reader with minute details: “Marge’s eyebrows drew together, her lips turned down, and her cheeks popped a dimple. Hate glared from her eyes.”

Some authors ruin the taste of their work with an avalanche of prettily written descriptors: “-ly” words.

Others may want to show their characters as human, so they have them natter on about nothing: “Remember when….” If the memory doesn’t pertain to the story or explain something about a character that has been a mystery, it doesn’t advance the plot. Rather than showing them as human, it pads the word count, stalls the momentum, and the reader stops reading.

ClicheDefinitionBingLIRF06282021Use of clichés. Speaking as a reader, please don’t use the word alabaster to describe a woman’s skin. Make an effort to find a different way to describe her appearance. It’s an easy word that says smooth and pale, but it’s an overused word that has become cliché.

As a matter of reference, it’s not usually necessary to describe a character’s skin other than with broad generalizations because you want the reader to imagine them for themselves, and we all have different ideas of beauty.

Clichés and catchphrases will appear in the first drafts of our work, but they are signposts for the second draft. They tell us to spend some time finding a creative way to show a person or event.

Events that occur for no reason and take the story nowhere: I loved “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series of books written by the late Douglas Adams.

The books detail the adventures of Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman traveling the galaxy in his pajamas. He and his friend are transported off the earth just in time to miss the destruction of the planet by the Vogons, a race of unpleasant and bureaucratic aliens, to make way for an intergalactic bypass.

Douglas Adams’ work is a little bit “out there,” but he understood that there must be a reason for the protagonist to leave his home wearing his pajamas and a robe. He used that opportunity to show the cozy, comfortable environment Arthur was about to be thrust out of.

Adams understood he first had to show Arthur in his happy home, and then his protagonist had to be quickly yanked out there and placed on that Vogon Constructor Ship.

For me as an author, the easiest part of writing is inadvertently slipping some clumsy bit of phrasing into my narrative, having an action scene go hilariously (and impossibly) wrong. I don’t usually notice the awkwardness until my editor points it out.

The_Pyramid_Conflict_Tension_PacingAs a reader, things will pull me out of the narrative, and I will probably stop reading at that point. Most of these issues are the result of lazy writing habits.

Research: Using real science requires research, which is time-consuming. Writing true history, writing medical dramas, and using police and military procedures involves effort. You must glean research from more sources than Wikipedia and old CSI episodes.

If you are writing historical fiction, you must read many books on your subject. Make notes as you read each, noting the book title, the author, and the page number where you found the info—you may need to know those things later. It’s work, but this is a job where you can’t skimp.

If you are writing speculative fiction, you will accumulate science or other background information in your world-building process. You will want to keep it organized, and this is where the style sheet or storyboard comes in handy.

What the style sheet/storyboard should cover:

  • All names, created or not: Aeos, Aeolyn, Beryl, Carl, Edwin, etc.
  • Real and created animal names: alligator, stinkbear, thunder-cow, waterdemon
  • Created words that are hyphenated: fire-mage, thunder-cow
  • All place names, real or created: Seattle, Chicago, Ragat, Wister, Sevya, Arlen, Neveyah
  • Any research note you have accumulated.

See my post, Designing the story for more on how to make a storyboard or style sheet.

good_stories_LIRFmemeKeep your notes/stylesheet in a clearly labeled file, and back them up on a thumb drive or file them in the cloud via Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Docs. I use and work out of a file-saving service, so my files won’t be lost no matter what happens to my computer.

Turning those notes into your story is an integral part of the writing process.

Plagiarism – this is most important: never copy lines from another person’s work and pass them off as your own. That is plagiarism, and you never want to be accused of that. If you must quote someone verbatim in your book, contact their publisher and get their legal permission to do so, and credit them by using proper footnotes. If you do not receive written consent, do not use their work.

Keep this written permission on file with any other legal papers that pertain to that book.

An excellent article on this can be found here: Cite Unseen: 3 Bits for a Better Bibliography

 

11 Comments

Filed under writing

Using Pictures and Quotes #amwriting

Quoting other authors verbatim and including it in your book is opening a REAL can of worms. I will touch on that subject further down this post.

First, we’ll talk about blog posts, and why citing sources and crediting images is important.

When we first begin blogging, finding great images seems like no big deal. You google what you want, see what images pop up, right click, copy, and use them, right?

Don’t do it.

You can get into NO END of trouble that way, as is made clear in this article, The $7,500 Blogging Mistake That Every Blogger Needs to Avoid!

I use Wikimedia Commons and Public Domain images. Wikimedia makes it easy for you to get the attributions and licensing for each image. An excellent article on using Creative Commons Images can be found here:

What Is Creative Commons, And Should You Use It?

Another good source is Allthefreestock.com, where you can find hundreds of free stock photos, music, and many other things for your blog and other projects. Make sure you credit the artist!

Sometimes I need images I can only get by paying a small fee for.

I go to Dreamstime or Canstock, and several other reputable sources. For a few dollars, usually only two or three, I then have the right to use the image of my choice, and it’s properly licensed. The proper legal attribution is also there on the seller’s website, clearly written out with the copyright and artist name, so all you need to do is copy and paste it to your footnotes.

I also insert the attribution into the image details on my website so that when a mouse hovers over the image, curious readers can go to the source. (In WordPress, you must be on the WP Admin dashboard. Click on the image and go to ‘edit details’).

If you can do this, you won’t have to credit them in your footnotes.

We may want to quote another blogger or use the information we have learned from them. However, you will notice that I generally only quote directly from Wikipedia in those posts.

There is a reason, and we will get to that later.

If there is research involved, you should make notes at the bottom of your composition document about the title and URL of the website/article, the author, and what day you accessed it.

Properly citing your sources is your legal obligation, but there is a moral one here too: if some blogger quoted you verbatim, wouldn’t you want to be credited?

Some people will say that blogging isn’t really writing, so WHY bother with footnotes?

First of all, if blogging isn’t writing, what is it?

The footnotes at the bottom of every post tell me where my images are sourced, who created them, and what I used them in.

In my Fine Art Friday posts on art history, I do as wide as search as possible for information on a particular artist and painting. I only use images available from Wikimedia Commons with the share-alike copyright.

Citing sources:

First, I open a document in my word-processing program (I use Word), save it as whatever the title of the post is in that blog’s file folder, and compose my post the way I would write a story.

Composing the body of my post in a document rather than the content area of the blog-template allows me to spellcheck and edit my work before it is posted. Even so, I miss some typos and errors. The truth is, I feel more comfortable writing in a document rather than the content-window.

At the bottom of the page, I list what website I quoted, who the author was, the date of publication, and the date I accessed it. I have found the simplest method is the Chicago Manual of Style method, which looks like this:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab,  General Model for Citing Books in the Chicago Notes and Bibliography System, Copyright ©1995-2017 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved.

Website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/03 Accessed Jan 10, 2017

When you quote from Wikipedia, you can click on the ‘cite this page’ link in the left-hand column, which is a menu of items pertaining to Wikipedia in general and to that article. ‘Cite this page’ is listed under ‘tools.’ Clicking on this link takes you to a page offering citations for that page in CMoS, APA, or MLA style, whichever suits your needs. All you need to do is copy and paste the one you prefer into your footnotes, and your due diligence has been done.

All this information for your footnotes should be inserted at the BOTTOM of your current document, so everything you need for your blog post is all in one place. When my blog article is complete and ready to post, I will insert a line to separate the body of the post from the credits and attribution notes.

When readers view my blog, if my post were one that I did research for, they would see this at the bottom of the post:

Warning! To use copyrighted material in your book, you MUST contact the publisher.

Follow their guidelines to obtain the right to quote from a published book. This is NOT a simple process, but you must do it if you plan to quote anyone whose work is NOT in the Public Domain.

Chances are, you will be denied, so be prepared to do without that material.

That is why I quote from Wikipedia when it is applicable and when the copyright is Share-Alike.

Plagiarism and quoting are two different things. Plagiarism is lifting entire sections and publishing it as yours. For more on last year’s scandal in the world of “fast-track” publishing, read this article at the Fussy Librarian. Romance authors discover they’ve been plagiarized.

About the share-alike copyright, via Wikipedia:

Share-alike is a copyright licensing term, originally used by the Creative Commons project, to describe works or licences that require copies or adaptations of the work to be released under the same or similar licence as the original.[1] Copyleft licences are free content or free software licences with a share-alike condition.

Two currently-supported Creative Commons licences have the ShareAlike condition: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (a copyleftfree content licence) and Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (a proprietary licence).

To wind this rant up – bloggers, photographers and artists are just like those who write novels. They are proud of their work and want to be credited for it. Protect yourself and your work by responsibly sourcing images and giving credit to the authors and artists whose work you use.


Credits and Attributions

Wikipedia contributors, “Share-alike,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Share-alike&oldid=929200583 (accessed January 7, 2020).

Share alike icon, Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Cc-sa.svg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Cc-sa.svg&oldid=362413897 (accessed January 7, 2020).

Portions of this article and the screenshots first appeared on the Northwest Independent Writers’ Association  Blog in January of 2017, written by Connie J. Jasperson, © 2017 All Rights Reserved.

Comments Off on Using Pictures and Quotes #amwriting

Filed under writing

Plagiarism, Citations and Footnotes #amwriting

I write posts for several other blogs besides Life in the Realm of Fantasy. During the week, I make a note of any interesting topic that might make a good blogpost. Today, the subject of citing sources came up again in conversation, so I am going back to an article I first published here on September 4, 2017.

This post pertains only to blogging. To use copyrighted material in your book, you need to contact the publisher. Follow their guidelines to obtain the right to quote from a published book. This is NOT a simple process, but you must do it if you plan to quote anyone whose work is NOT in the Public Domain.

Plagiarism and quoting are two different things. Plagiarism is lifting entire sections and publishing it as yours. For more on the current scandal emerging in the world of “fast-track” publishing, read this article at the Fussy Librarian. Romance authors discover they’ve been plagiarized.

I always write my posts in a Word document because it is easier for me to edit. Sometimes, there is research involved. When that is the case, I make footnotes at the bottom of my composition document as I go.

So why did I mention making footnotes? Many people think that is just for academic stuff.

It is important to give credit to people whom you quote, whether it is verbatim or paraphrased. When I first began blogging, I didn’t understand the nuts and bolts of citing sources, as I hadn’t really had to do much of that in college. I learned about this by looking things up on the internet.

It’s your legal obligation to cite your sources, but there is a moral one here too. Perhaps you wrote something that other people found useful. Wouldn’t you want to be credited? It’s a rough business, and as we have recently discovered, plagiarism is rife. As ethical people, we must make it our business to not be a part of the problem.

First, let’s talk images:

When we first begin blogging, sourcing images seems easy. You Google your subject and a lot of images pop up. You see one you like, right click on it, copy it, and paste it. The images are on the internet, so it’s free to use them, right?

Not true.

I’ve mentioned this article before, and it bears being referenced here again: The $7,500 Blogging Mistake That Every Blogger Needs to Avoid!

I either make my own images or get them from Creative Commons. An excellent article on using Creative Commons Images can be found here:

I often go to Wikimedia Commons to find Public Domain images. I really like Wikimedia and Wikipedia because they make it easy for you to get the attributions and licensing for each image. Another good source is Allthefreestock.com, where you can find hundreds of free stock photos, music, and many other things for your blog and other projects.

Sometimes I need images I can only get by paying for. For those, I go to Dreamstime or Canstock, and several other reputable sources. For a few dollars, usually only two or three, I then have the right to use the image of my choice, and it’s properly licensed. The proper legal attribution is also there on the seller’s website, clearly written out with the copyright and artist name, so all you need to do is copy and paste it to your footnotes.

I love being able to copy and paste citations, as it saves a little time.

I keep a log of where my images are sourced, who created them, and what I used them in. I also insert the attribution into the image details on my website so that when a mouse hovers over the image, curious readers can go to the source. (In WordPress, you must be on the WP Admin dashboard. Click on the image and go to edit details.) If you can do this, you won’t have to credit them in your footnotes.

We may want to quote another blogger or use the information we have learned from them. Good citations are absolutely critical and can help you build friendships within the writing community.

I recommend you don’t quote too long a passage, or your “quote” could be interpreted as reprinting their entire work. Quote only the pertinent information and cite your source in proper footnotes. The instructions for citing sources follows:

First, I open a document in my word-processing program (I use Word), save it as whatever the title of the post is in that blog’s file folder. I compose my post the way I would write a story.

  • Composing the body of my post in a document rather than the content area of the blog-template here at WordPress allows me to spell check and edit my work first, and I feel more comfortable writing in a document rather than the content-window.

As I work and do research, I keep a log at the bottom of my page, listing what website I found information at, who the author was, the date of publication, and the date I accessed it. I have found the simplest method is the Chicago Manual of Style method:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab,  General Model for Citing Books in the Chicago Notes and Bibliography System, Copyright ©1995-2019 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. Website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/03 Accessed Jan 10, 2017

When you quote from Wikipedia, you can click on the ‘cite this page’ link. This can be found in the left-hand column of the page. In fact, the left-hand column of a Wikipedia page is a menu of items about Wikipedia in general, and of that article specifically. ‘Cite this page’ is listed under ‘tools.’ Clicking on this link takes you to a page offering citations for that page in CMOS, APA, or MLA style, whichever suits your need. All you need to do is copy and paste the one you prefer into your footnotes, and your due diligence has been done.

All this information for your footnotes should be inserted at the BOTTOM of your current document, so everything you need for your blog post is all in one place. When my blog article is complete and ready to post, I will insert a line to separate the body of the post from the credits and attribution notes.

When I have sources to cite, readers will see this at the bottom of the post:

Authors should blog about who they are and what they do because they can connect with potential readers that way. Using pictures and quoting good sources makes your blog more interesting and encourages regular readers to follow your blog.

I always think that anytime you can direct curious readers to other websites that might be new to them, we all win.

Photographers and artists are as proud of their work as we are of ours and want to be credited for it. Protect your reputation by giving credit to the authors and artists whose work you use.


Credits and Attributions

Portions of this article and the screenshots first appeared on the Northwest Independent Writers’ Association  Blog in January of 2017, written by Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved.

6 Comments

Filed under writing

#amwriting: Citing Sources and Image Attribution

Writing blog posts isn’t that difficult per se, as I can knock one out in less than an hour if I’m fired up about the subject. The real challenge of blogging regularly is finding interesting content. But that is also how you grow in the craft—you become a better writer when you write on a variety of subjects.

I write posts for several other blogs besides Life in the Realm of Fantasy. The way I handle my blogging commitments is this:

  1. During the week, I make a note of any interesting topic that might make a good blogpost. The only day I write blog posts is Sunday, but I write the entire week’s posts that day.
  2. If there is research involved, I make footnotes at the bottom of my composition document as I go. Getting five articles ready on my busy weeks could take the whole day. Usually writing the posts for the week only involves the morning.

For a blogger who posts once a week, it should only take an hour or so.

So WHY did I mention making footnotes? Isn’t that just for academic stuff?

Not at all, Grasshopper. We must give credit where credit is due. It’s your legal obligation, but there is a moral one here too: if you wrote something good and someone quoted you verbatim, wouldn’t you want to be credited?

First let’s talk images:

When we first begin blogging, sourcing images seems like no big deal. You google what you want, see what images pop up, right click, copy, and use them, right?

WRONG! You can get into NO END of trouble that way. A friend recently pointed a telling blogpost out, and it bears being referenced here again: The $7,500 Blogging Mistake That Every Blogger Needs to Avoid!

An excellent article on using Creative Commons Images can be found here:

I use Wikimedia Commons and Public Domain images. Wikimedia makes it easy for you to get the attributions and licensing for each image. Another good source is Allthefreestock.com, where you can find hundreds of free stock photos, music, and many other things for your blog and other projects.

Sometimes I need images I can only get by paying for, and I go to Dreamstime or Canstock, and several other reputable sources. For a few dollars, usually only two or three, I then have the right to use the image of my choice, and it’s properly licensed. The proper legal attribution is also there on the seller’s website, clearly written out with the copyright and artist name, so all you need do is copy and paste it to your footnotes.

I keep a log of where my images are sourced, who created them, and what I used them in. I also insert the attribution into the image details on my website so that when a mouse hovers over the image, curious readers can go to the source. (In WordPress, you must be on the WP Admin dashboard. Click on the image and go to ‘edit details’). If you can do this, you won’t have to credit them in your footnotes.

We may want to quote another blogger or use the information we have learned from them. Plagiarism is an ugly word, and you never want to be accused of it. To that end, we cite our sources and only use images we have the legal right to use, also citing their source.

Citing sources:

First, I open a document in my word-processing program (I use Word), save it as whatever the title of the post is in that blog’s file folder, and compose my post the way I would write a story.

  • Composing the body of my post in a document rather than the content area of the blog-template allows me to spell check and edit my work first, and I feel more comfortable writing in a document rather than the content-window.

I keep a log at the bottom of my page of what website, who the author was, the date of publication, and the date I accessed it. I have found the simplest method is the Chicago Manual of Style method:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab,  General Model for Citing Books in the Chicago Notes and Bibliography System, Copyright ©1995-2017 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved.

Website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/03 Accessed Jan 10, 2017

When you quote from Wikipedia, you can click on the ‘cite this page’ link in the left-hand column, which is a menu of items pertaining to Wikipedia in general and to that article. ‘Cite this page’ is listed under ‘tools.’ Clicking on this link takes you to a page offering citations for that page in CMoS, APA, or MLA style, whichever suits your need. All you need to do is copy and paste the one you prefer into your footnotes, and your due diligence has been done.

All this information for your footnotes should be inserted at the BOTTOM of your current document, so everything you need for your blog post is all in one place. When my blog article is complete and ready to post, I will insert a line to separate the body of the post from the credits and attribution notes.

When readers view my blog, if my post were one that I did research for, they would see this at the bottom of the post:

Authors need to blog about who they are and what they do because they can connect with potential readers that way. Using pictures and quoting good sources makes blogs more interesting and informative.

Photographers and artists are just like writers—they are proud of their work and want to be credited for it. Protect yourself and your work by responsibly sourcing your images, giving credit to the authors and artists whose work you use.


Credits

Portions of this article and the screenshots first appeared on the Northwest Independent Writers’ Association  Blog in January of 2017, written by Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments

Filed under writing