Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, July 23, 2012

A busy Monday follows a busy Sunday. Let’s jump right in, starting with a few pieces on craft.

  • Joseph Putnam’s (@josephputnam) The #1 Secret of Great Writers on Write to Done has to be the lead post, if for no other reason than its Ernest Hemingway quote. Hem told an interviewer that he’d written 39 drafts of the last page of A Farewell to Arms. Shocked, the interviewer asked what Hemingway was doing. Papa’s answer: “Getting the words right.” What a great way to illustrate that writing is rewriting. There’s just no getting around that.
  • In a related vein, Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) wonders Is Talent Overrated? She’s picking up on Geoff Colvin’s (@geoffcolvin) thesis in his book Talent Is Overrated that talent alone isn’t enough, but that focused hard work on improving one’s skills is the most important thing. In fact, Colvin and others go so far as to say that if you’re not actively trying to get better, you are probably getting worse. Personally, I think a degree of talent is necessary as a base to build from, but I 100% agree with the “actively trying to get better” part. It drives what I do–including rewriting! Especially rewriting.
  • Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s Villains in Fiction post on The Kill Zone is pretty much a review of what’s well established regarding making a story’s baddies believable. What jumped out at me was Jim Bell’s (@jamesscottbell) quote from Dean Koontz (@deankoontz), which reads in part, “The best villains are those that evoke pity and sometimes even genuine sympathy as well as terror.”
  • Henry McLaughlin (@riverbendsagas) picks up on something I first encountered in a Writer’s Digest article by Steven James (@sjamesauthor). McLaughlin’s Everybody’s Talking at Me on WordServe Water Cooler discusses how what characters say and how they say it depends on their status relative to the other character or characters in the scene. James’ article was a real eye-opener for me. McLaughlin’s is a good one, too.

OK, now for a couple of how-to’s (or is that how-tos?).

  • Chuck Sambuchino’s (@ChuckSambuchino) How to Publicize and Promote Your Book: 7 Pieces of Advice on Writer Unboxed is a blunt assessment of the realities of book marketing from the author’s point of view: “Coverage is insanely hit-or-miss…” At the same time, and to maybe make matters worse, we should note that Chuck may actually have had some advantages most of us don’t have because he works for Writer’s Digest. Bottom line: marketing is a lot of work.
  • Videos on blogs are becoming more and more common. Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) lists 15 Steps to Create Great Blog Videos on The Book Designer. To be clear, there can actually be more than 15 steps–or fewer, depending–and Joel’s advice is Mac-specific but the main message is that preparing a quality video involves a lot more than just standing in front of a camera and jabbering.

And finally, who says “young people” don’t read? Check out the photos on Robert Bruce’s (@robertbruce76) Reading On the NYC Subway on 101 Books, and the Underground New York Public Library site they come from. Attention writers: there are readers of all ages waiting for your work!

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