Sunday, August 10, 2014

Show AND Tell

When I was in school, and when I was a beginning writer, nobody ever hesitated to offer up the #1 advice for fiction writers: "Show, don't tell."

I recently heard a radio ad for a cruise line - and it's obvious that they took this advice to heart.  As a result, they created an entire advertising campaign that aims to transport the listener with their wordy descriptions, similes, and metaphors, with the sole purpose of selling more tickets for their trips.

But, while this may be sound advice for an amateur to help build good habits in writing, it is not always true in a professional setting.  The cruise line did not create an inspiring advertisement - they created an overwritten mess that makes the listener laugh, rather than feel like they should be on a trip.

A good writer knows how to engage his audience and then keep them wanting more - and if everything becomes a detailed, flowery description when the reader feels the story is becoming stagnant, then the author has failed to use prudence in his work, and audiences will react.  A balance between showing and telling is not an easy thing to teach, because it is like knowing the precise moment to take a swing at a baseball: it is something that comes naturally with experience.

However, it is not impossible to at least get a basic understanding of how this balance should look.

The main thing to keep in mind here is what your scene is about, and how you want the reader to react.  For example:

"She stepped outside in her sapphire-blue gown and gripped the handcrafted iron railing.  Her presence engulfed the belle epoch scenery, commanding all eyes to be on her.  She took a breath, and lingered another moment to ensure she wouldn't wake up mid-dream.  Then she started carefully down the stone steps, toward the man in the black tuxedo who was waiting to take her into forever."


"She walked outside, looked at the crowd of guests, then continued down the stairs toward her future husband."

The first example is flowery as can be, but it works in this case because the scene calls for the reader to take a step back and take in the scenery and the action in slow-motion.  The second example, however, kind of leaves a bad taste in the reader's mouth, because it robs them of the romance of the whole scene.

Then there's this:

"Her fashion-forward style made her curves look like a painting from the Museum of Modern Art.  She ran just like the other Beverly Hills girls do: slow and careful, so as to not damage her Manolo Blahnick shoes - but she was running for her life.  There was a man oozing lust from his eyes about a mile away, galloping toward her like a race horse on a victory lap.  He wore black pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and his brown hair bounced with each step.  The knife in his hand glinted in the sun at intervals as he ran, and his breathing resounded through the walls of the alleyway.  She knew she was in danger."


"She ran as quickly as she could, grasping for anything that she could use to defend herself.  Left, right - she had no idea where her legs were taking her, where her desperation had led her, but she knew she had to run.  Run, Lily, run, she thought.  Her attacker, although older than her, hammered on toward her and made it seem to Lilly he was more than human, determined to satisfy some ungodly hunger to ravage her."

The first one here sounds almost comical, because the author is taking the time to describe irrelevant things that slow the action and are irrelevant to the fact that this woman is being chased by a maniac who probably wants to kill her.  It is simply too wordy for the sake of being wordy - who cares what the two people are wearing?

The second version does a much better job of relaying the sense of urgency and the tension the protagonist is likely feeling because it uses rhythm, repetition, and brief descriptions of relevant things - the context of the scene is displayed in the text itself, rather than in the descriptions.

Showing, telling - it's all part of fiction, and both are tools in the overwhelmingly all-inclusive Writers' Arsenal.  And, as writers, we must be able to utilize all of these tools effectively to create not just good works, but great works, and eventually craft the Great American Novel.

Princess Article:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Before or After?

I recently applied for work as an editor at a company and they gave me a grammar test that I had to pass before I could get hired.  When I looked at the questions, though, I knew why they were in need of an editor.  This was the question (and the answer choices):

Should the punctuation go inside or outside the quotations?
a. Inside       b. Outside

Well, this is a hell of a loaded question.  After all, there is no simple rule for anything in English grammar.  When it comes to quotations and punctuation, the same concept applies.  The gist of the rules is that if the quotation is an actual quotation - as in, somebody said something and now you're repeating it - or if the statement within the quotations is an exclamation or question, then the punctuation would go on the inside.  Otherwise, it goes on the outside.  For example:

You call yourself a "martyr?"  would be incorrect, because this is not a quotation of someone asking, simply, "martyr?".

The correct way to annotate this is:

You call yourself a "martyr"?

Now, if the sentence read:

The king addressed his subject, and asked, "You call yourself a martyr?"

In this case, the quote is an actual question, so the question mark goes inside the quotes.  But, if it read like this:

Can you believe he told me, "And you call yourself a martyr"?

In this case, the question mark goes outside the quotation marks because the quote inside them is not a question, while the statement outside them is.

Ok, so what fun is English without an exception or two?  In this case I'll give you one:

Can you believe he asked me, "You call yourself a martyr"?


Can you believe he asked me, "You call yourself a martyr?"

in this case, both of these are correct, because both the quote and the statement are questions, and the writer can use his discretion on which to use.

The issue is different when it comes to dialog, however, and the punctuation should go inside the quotations, such as in the following examples:

"I know you," he said.

"I do not care!" I shouted.

"What ever do you mean?" he asked.

Hopefully this boils the issue down so that if you ever doubted which way was correct, or if you were ever faced with a grammar test when applying for work as an editor, you could impress everyone and land that job.

As always, happy writing!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Most Important Tool For Writers

There is one tool that writers must employ to be successful.  I am not going to waste any time embellishing this: the single most important tool for any writer is ORGANIZATION.  Whether you're writing a book, novel, story, poem, article, sending agent queries or creating a blog post, there is nothing more important than getting organized.  This doesn't just mean having a tidy desk; rather, it includes everything from timing, scheduling, planning, and outlining.

If you do an online search to find your favorite writer's process, you will most likely find that he or she sets a set amount of time daily, weekly, or monthly to writing.  This means that you will have no disruptions during this time.  For me, I lock myself into my office and my family knows not to disturb me during this time - this is work.  I also leave my cellphone outside of my office so that I will not be disturbed.  Trust me, this can be difficult at first, but it will pay off in the end.

But it is not enough to have time and space set aside; planning and outlining is also key.  Without a plan, if you do stream of consciousness-type writing and plan to publish whatever comes out on that page, you run the risk of creating inconsistencies in your work.  Of course, stream of consciousness writing has its place, but to me it is in the warm-up or practice stage of writing.  It's like what doodling is to an artist.  Sure, you may get some great ideas out of this, but they will be raw ideas that need refining.  An outline will help your writing flow better, and it will help prevent holes in your story, which is incredibly important.

Keeping careful records of each character in each story (use character sheets - I have some available that you can use if you email me), each setting, location, and a graphic timeline of events and parallel events in your story.  This is important even when writing nonfiction or memoir, because inconsistencies happen even in those mediums.  And if you're into writing poetry and you haven't realized the importance of planning and outlining yet, then you need to get on it asap.

Additionally, it is very important to keep careful records when querying agents.  Because each agent has his own taste in literature and each work is different, it is vital to keep a separate list of potential agents for each work.  Also, you must keep track of which agents you've queried and when, and based on the information on their website, when would be a good time to follow up on your query.  Keeping a database (I use an Excel spreadsheet that I can email to you if you contact me at will prevent querying the same agent twice with the same work and from contacting a queried agent too soon.

Being organized will not only make you a better and more efficient writer, it will keep your writing tight.  The important thing to remember here is that, as the old adage goes, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Thats all, Folk's" - Possessives, Plurals, and Pronouns

Ah, the problem of possessives, plurals, and pronouns.  Many people, including teachers, writers, and marketing professionals, find the use of apostrophes with possessives, plurals, and pronouns to be very confusing.  So I'm going to outline it very simply for here.


The first thing to keep in mind when trying to decide whether or not you will need an apostrophe ('), is that the apostrophe takes the place of another letter (such as with contractions), except when used to indicate possession of an object or idea.  So, for example:

"are not" becomes "aren't"
"It is" becomes "it's"

When creating a possessive, the apostrophe is used to indicate ownership:

"the cat's meow"
"the bee's knees"
"the rat's donkey"
"Einstein's theory"

Now, when using a pronoun, no apostrophe is needed, because the pronouns all have possessive versions:

"its paw"
"his leg"
"their house"

When it comes to plurals, many people become insecure about apostrophe usage.  To simplify this, consider the following words:

"Mrs. Jones"
"The Joneses"

Not all of these are plural, but they all end in "s".  This is where the confusion lies.  The important thing to remember here is that to make these into possessives, singular words will take an ('s), while plural words only take (').

So, the list above would look like this:

"Mrs Jones's car"
"The Joneses' pool"
"cats' pajamas"
"bees' knees"
"fathers' day"
"Agnes's attitude"
"happiness's sake"

Keep in mind that singular words only take ('s), not ('), NO MATTER WHAT LETTER OR SYMBOL THEY END WITH.  Take these examples:

"Rktak's pillow"

"Ω's representation"

"Babalú's jokes"

's usage"

"My pass's lob"

Hopefully this helps to clarify things!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

If You're a Writer, DON'T DO THIS!

Many years ago I attended a seminar that promised dating advice for men. In it, I met many nice guys who had trouble meeting women, and had become immersed in a world of "pick-up artists" and seminars that promised to teach techniques that went beyond pick-up lines and other tricks. Many of these men were seeking a "magic bullet", or a line that would have any woman hypnotized instantly. Unable to get that kind of information at previous seminars, they continued to attend different ones, hoping that the magic pick-up line would suddenly come to them.

The key here is that none of these men were ever going to be able to find women by attending weekly or daily seminars full of men. Sure, some of the techniques the presenters brought to the table made sense, but all of them required practice, dedication, and of course, application. Many of the attendees hopped from seminar to seminar hoping to find a method that would allow them to get results without much effort. This is similar to people who constantly try new pills to lose weight; the tried and true way of losing way is not a pill - it is diet and exercise, and that takes effort.

Similarly, in writing, there are people who attend seminars to learn how to write, to learn how to land an agent, and learn how to get published. But what good is all of this information if you are not actually doing any writing? The point here is that, although there is a lot of information to be learned about writing on the internet and in seminars throughout the world, none of them are going to get you published if you don't have any work to be published.

What I am recommending here is not to stop reading tips on writing or publishing; learning your craft is a very important aspect of writing. But, if you are spending most of your time (or rather, more than 20 percent of your writing time) learning about writing rather than actually writing - you're never going to get anywhere. So, if you don't dedicate an hour of each day to writing, and are instead spending more than 30 minutes reading, you're wasting valuable writing time. Recognize that this is a procrastination technique that your brain is using to avoid failure.

Those guys at the seminar say they want to be sure they know everything there is to know about women and dating before going out to try and meet a girl - but that is a tall order, and one that is impossible to achieve. They are "putting off" going out and approaching women because they are afraid of being rejected. If your work is akin to Shakespeare's or Frost's or Hemmingway's or Thoreau's, the reality is that there will be many people who will reject it regardless, so get used to it; being a writer requires very thick skin. So, rather than wasting too much time learning the craft, spend time writing and getting your work critiqued. There are many places you can get this done for free, including critique groups on Meetup. This will help you find your target audience much as a dating enthusiast will find a date by actually approaching women.

So get out there, work in hand, and find your match.

Learn more writing tips and get help with self-publishing, queries, and getting your work out there at:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How NOT to Use Social Media

If you have Twitter and have "followed" a few people "just because" or to increase the number of followers you have through reciprocation, then you have likely run into them.  Yes, them; the mindless automatons who feel that they are a gift to the world and that you would purchase or download their product (most of them, in my experience are writers selling their books - even free books).

Now, Twitter and other social media can be very useful tools in your online marketing, but these people are trying to do it the easy way, and cutting too many corners will have you running in a circle in no time.  Marketing is about branding.  Branding does not involve pushing the consumer to action first, and then introducing the product; it is an art that requires careful consideration and cunning.

So, here I present you with a few "don't's" when trying to market yourself with social media like Twitter, and alternatives that would work much better for you.

1.  Do NOT ever, ever, ever, set an automatic reply asking the person who has joined your social media circle to join you in your other ones.  First, nobody even reads these auto replies; second, most people delete them without even reading them; and worse of all, this is the FIRST impression you're making with this person!  Instead, create a post publicly announcing the person, and thanking them for following you.  Be genuine.

2.  Do NOT ever, ever, ever, send messages to your followers or fans telling them how wonderful your new book is and how they should buy it, because it's only 99 cents or FREE.  I say this all the time, but too many people out there are doing this so I need to drill the point home: DO NOT DEVALUE YOUR WORK BY GIVING IT AWAY.  If you want to be a professional writer, you must charge for your work.  You wouldn't expect a chef to make a complete meal for you free of charge to get you to go to their restaurant; neither would you expect an electrician to wire your entire home before you contract him to do other work.  If you want to be a professional, charge for your work.  That's what differentiates a professional from an amateur: pay.  If you give your books away (other than a very short promotion), then you are simply equal to a student in a creative writing class. Instead, run promotions to discount your book(s), create a website where people can learn about you and your work, and subscribe to a mailing list - this is where you can provide samples of your work and build yourself up to people who have asked for this information.

3. Do NOT ever, ever, ever, spam your followers with advertisements for your book or anyone else's.  Social media marketing success requires that people who follow you actually READ your posts - and if they know you as a spammer, they may keep you just to have more followers under their belts, but they are not reading your posts.  Instead, provide rich content.  Let people know you're a real person who will interact and who has something to offer.  If you build it, they will come.

4.  Do NOT ever, ever, ever, EVER, say anything negative about a fan or a critic.  To be a writer, you must have thick skin.  If you can't handle criticism, find another line of work, because it will happen.  Just look at reviews for your favorite writers, musicians, actors, directors, etc.  This comes with the territory.  Instead, ask the critic to provide more detail.  Exchanging respectful communications with a critic to find out why they didn't like your work is a great way to turn a critic into a fan.

5.  Finally, do not be inactive.  I am terrible with this one.  I really don't like using Facebook or Twitter, and I don't have an Instagram account.  But I do write at least one or two posts each week, because I know it's important for my career.  And this is fine, so long as you don't disappear off the face of the Earth for months on end.  Any marketing person would tell you that for a person to remember something - anything - they need to hear it mentioned an average of three times.  That's why ads on the radio mention the product AND the phone number at least three times; some do it in a row, which doesn't work.  Instead, place the cover of your book on your website (on every page, if you are so inclined) as the background on your social media account, on your business cards, on your email signature; everywhere, but be subtle about it - remember #3 above.

As a final thought, use common sense.  Ask friends what they think about your social media accounts and about posts you make.  True friends WILL tell you if something you post might bother fans.  So keep these five things in mind, and happy socializing!  Robots have empty flower pots, a professional charges for it all, spam gets canned, critics don't carry sticks (or stones), and the couch potato won't get no tomato.  Oh, and this blogger is a father - Happy Fathers' Day!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Building a Platform

For a writer, a platform is what makes their career a success.  Much like sports teams have fans, writers, too must have followers who enjoy reading their work.  A writer's platform includes all of these followers, from the people who read a writer's blog, to the ones who enjoy a writer's Twitter posts, to Facebook fans, to people who purchase every book or novel published by the writer/author.

Although this sounds rather simple to accomplish, it really requires patience, time, and valuable content to achieve.  This is why agents and magazine editors use a writer's platform as one of the main criteria in their decision-making.  So if you're starting out in your writing career, how can you begin to build a solid platform?

Planning is key.  The first step is to create social media accounts for your writing persona.  These should be separate from your personal accounts.  These should be active - schedule reminders to update your feeds at least once or twice per week.  Make sure you have a professional-looking picture on these accounts.  If you have work already published, create a website with links to all of your social media accounts - and make sure you use memorable page names, but that they are not too complicated or hard to spell
( vs.  This should all be relatively inexpensive, maybe even free.

Next, which I tell every writer in my writing and critique groups, is order business cards with your name and the url's for all of your social media sites.  Give these out everywhere you go.  Leave some behind at the bus stop or on the table at a restaurant.  Introduce yourself as a "writer" or "author".   If someone asks, "What have you written?"  simply reply, "I wouldn't know where to begin... but here, this is my card," and give them your business card.

Third, produce content!  Create content that is intriguing, but also create content that offers something to the reader.  Know your target audience so that you know what to offer your readers.  In other words, if your target audience is "post partum women", create posts that describe your own experiences: if you're a man, tell these women what they can expect from their partner; if you're a woman, share the ups and downs of motherhood.  For the above example, do not create content about myopia in teacup breed dogs.  Do not write fiction about murdered children.

Fourth, be patient!  You cannot build a platform overnight; you cannot sell one million copies of a book overnight (unless you're Dan Brown); just like Rome wasn't built in one day.  If anyone offers you the secret to achieving this kind of success quickly, RUN the other way.

Finally, do not anger your followers with unsolicited advertisements for your new book!  Even if it's free, PAY FOR AN AD, do not target the people who trust you not to spam them with Twitter posts about downloading your free book.  Unless you're James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, people do not care that your new "soon-to-be-classic" is available for download on Smashwords for free. It's just one more post to delete or ignore among all the other 9,999 books that are produced each day.  Literally.  And don't badmouth other writers or their work.  They are not your competition, just like Brad Pitt is not competition for Judi Dench.  There is plenty of room for all writers.

The key here is to give so that you can receive.  After all, if you build it (your platform, that is) they will most definitely come.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting Published in Magazines

Before putting out books and novels, an author needs to have a platform - a solid following through various media - to be able to sell even a modest amount of books.  One of the best ways to accomplish this is by getting work published in magazines, newspapers, and other publications.

However, with the publishing industry suffering a dwindling readership as a result of the digital era and a flood of writers saturating the talent pool for the same reason, it is becoming increasingly difficult for good writers to get their work noticed.  Sure, a talented writer will definitely stand out among the frantic workers in the disturbed anthill of digital publishing; but the key for a talented writer is to get someone to actually look in his or her direction.  So how can we do this as serious writers?

Every book and website out there will tell you that the first step in trying to get published is to read several issues of the publication in question to get a feel for the tone of the publication.  I will not tell you differently.  This is the crucial first step in getting your work to appear in the publication.  If you're already familiar with the magazine, great!  You're halfway there.

Next, you need to ask yourself if what you plan on presenting is something that would appeal to the readership of the publication.  If it isn't, you need to get back to the drawing board.  If your answer is yes, then the next step is to draw up a proposal (if it's nonfiction) or a synopsis (if fiction).  Your proposal is the key to getting noticed, but you must keep in mind that the closing of your proposal includes your biography.  This is where you explain why you are qualified to write this article, and why the article will help increase interest in the publication.  In other words, you must have a compelling list of qualifications and a solid platform.

If you do not have either of these, you can still get published if your proposal is intriguing enough or it fills a need.  However, your best bet is to spend several months getting your other work out there, and the trick to that is to donate your work.  Yes, I know I always say that as a serious writer, you should never do "free books" on sites like Smashwords, because it devalues you as a writer and puts you in the same category in the eyes of the reader as the cat lady down the street who can't spell and didn't bother to hire an editor.  But what I'm recommending here is to find publications that are reputable but are not-for-profit and donating articles for them.  Most will gladly take donated articles and publish them, and this will help you build a resume.

In addition to this, you can write essays for scholarly journals, as these publications are constantly looking to fill hundreds of pages each issue.  It is not difficult to get published in a journal, but like with anything in writing, you need to do your research.  Make sure you are familiar with the writing style the journal utilizes and properly cite your sources.  Make sure all of the information within your essay can be verified with a reliable outside source.

Make sure that your byline describes your expertise, and that you list your website, blog, or social media pages.  For example: "Giovanni V. Crisan is the author of seven books, and a regular contributor on 'Unique Me Magazine'.  He also runs the blog 'On Writing', which is updated with writing and publishing tips weekly."

If you have trouble getting published in any of these, try a local small-print newspaper or magazine.  Again, donate the article or story - this is an investment to build a resume, a platform, and eventually a career.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Languish of Language

I am often asked why it is considered a big deal by some for a writer to have at least a basic grasp of grammar and spelling; after all, that's why we have editors, right?

Well, I liken writers to fashion designers.  Imagine a fashion designer who creates the best, most flattering jeans ever known to man.  Now imagine this pair of jeans has a new type of zipper and a new type of button, and nobody has ever seen or used these before.  Try as they might, customers find it impossible to figure out how to put on these jeans.  In this case, does it matter that they're the best-fitting jeans ever created?  Or are the (seemingly) little things getting in the way of the person's enjoyment of functional usage of the garment?

The point here is that it is extremely important to know your craft as a writer; people will respect you more for it, and they will have a better understanding of your work - which is the important thing.

That said, I'd like to review some commonly misused words and their proper usage.

Lay: To set something down
Lie: To be in a recumbent position

The difference is subtle, but basically I can lie down in surrender after I lay my weapons down.

less: reduction in comparison to something else - non-quantitative
fewer: reduction in comparison to something else - quantitative

So, in the Burger King ad I saw recently, it should promote their new "Satisfries" as having LESS fat (a non-quantitative measurement) and FEWER calories (can be counted) than regular fries.  Now, if they had listed the grams of fat, that is quantitative, so they could say fewer grams of fat; similarly, if the fries were advertised with "caloric content" in mind, the ad could have read "less caloric content".  As the ad ran, "less fat, less calories" it's just plain wrong.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Writing Resources

Following are some great writing resources I've used or have been recommended to me by various people that can help your writing:

The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler

Creating Characters by Dwight V. Swain

GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer

The Elements of Style by Strunk & White

Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway (Anything by her, actually)

The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Little Red Writing Book by Brandon Royal

Structuring Your Novel by K. M. Weiland 

Writer's Digest Magazine

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Highly Recommended Book

This book was hilarious. I loved the cat, the mother, and the crazy stuff the main character went through in her life. I don't normally read women's fiction, but this was recommended by my wife and I really liked it.  

It's called Milk, Turkey and Neurosis: or, How Mother (Almost) Ruined My Life by Gracie Feldman.  Help her out - the poor girl needs a positive change in her life!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Revision, Re-Vision

Revision, Re-Vision

I think revision is a very personal thing among authors.  Everyone has their own method, and I actually vary my method depending on what it is I'm revising.  One of my books was about halfway done when I decided I didn't like the direction it was going, so I scrapped the whole thing and started over.  Sometimes minor changes are all that a story needs, and I'll just make small adjustments.  I tend to suffer from what Alice Munro and Rollo May describe as "a big relief" or a "breakthrough of ideas", the "eureka!" moment that Isaac Asimov described so well in his essay.  I usually find that taking a long walk helps me get my best ideas, but I also have another tactic.  I find a movie or TV show about whatever it is I'm writing and watch it just before I go to bed; when I wake in the morning to write, I usually get that burst of inspiration that I need, fueled no doubt by my unconscious mind's interpretation of what I watched just before bed.  

That said, whether I completely start from scratch or modify what I have depends on the story I'm revising.  Some stories can be saved, some need an overhaul of Frankensteineian proportions, and some just need to be like Jesus and take a 3-day hiatus before they are resurrected in a new, more powerful way.  One story I'm working on right now has failed me in many ways, and I'm considering a complete re-do.  As many have said before, writing is easy; revision is a murder faker. 

So here are some things I look for during the revision process:

On first read, I look at Story

·         Story Arc
·         Structure
·         Plot
Conflict, Crisis, Resolution
Will the plot Entice, Engage, and eventually Satisfy readers?
·         Theme or Message

On second read, I look at Characters
·         Dialogue
·         Appearance
·         Action
·         Thought
·         Author's Interpretation
·         How another character sees each character

On third read, I look at Setting

·         Location
·         Landmarks
·         Metaphor
·         Weather
·         Population (number and type)
·         Time (of day and year)

Finally, I check for the following little things

·         Does the story start with tension?
·         Have I answered the "Why" questions?
·         Is this the best POV to tell the story?
·         Sentence structure variation
·         Word Choice (avoid complex words, vary words, vary conjunctions)
·         Am I clear and concise?
·         Am I using any clichès and/or idioms?
·         Am I showing rather than telling?

·         If it is a short story, are the characters' names or descriptions too similar?

Monday, January 6, 2014

And-or, Nand-nor

As a human, I often find myself going into automatic mode when writing.  And as a human, my mind chooses a handful of go-to terms that it can use without a second thought.

However, as a writer, I often find myself pulling the hair out of my head during the revision process, when I find I have used only two conjunctions throughout the paper: AND and OR.  So, I've decided to post a list of conjunctions within view at all times in my office, and I wanted to share them with you in case you have the same problem.  By no means is this an extensive list, but it's a good start (and no, they're not quite alphabetical):

As a result
As if
As long as
As though
Even though
Even if
For instance
For example
If only
In order
Now that
On the one hand
On the other hand