Happy Friday, everyone, from snowy southern Arizona. You read that right—snowy. Not Minnesota-snowy, but we are getting snow showers today. Nothing’s sticking—the ground is much too warm—but yes, 10 miles from the Mexican border, we do get snow. The mountains should be gorgeous once the clouds lift enough that I can see them. Anyway, that makes today a good day to stay inside and WRITE!
Ever find your story wandering off not just into places you never intended but into the deep, dark, dismal forest, just lost, lost, lost? Yeah, me too. Lisa Cron (@lisacron) offers a path out of those woods (or a way to avoid getting into them in the first place) in How To Keep Your Story On Track: Chart “Who Knows What, When” on Writer Unboxed. Outliners may love this method, since its character-knowledge-lines tie directly to a story’s scene-by-scene outline but even pantsers will find it useful, although at a later stage in the development process.
Another way stories get slowed down is when the author inserts “filler”: sentences, paragraphs, scenes, even (gasp!) whole chapters that add nothing to the story. Fortunately, editor Laura Carlson comes to the rescue with How to Cut the Filler and Tighten Your Book on KM Weiland’s WORDplay blog. If you’ve ever written anything that turned out to be filler (c’mon, of course you have J), this post will be helpful.
Last Wednesday, after I’d put up my post, Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) put up a 4-page Writing Goals Sheet, a downloadable PDF file that covers near-term and long range goals, funding and resources, and more. It’s all very pretty but you need to know how to turn on the typewriter function in Adobe Reader if you want to type directly onto the document. (To do so, in the latest Reader version, click on Comment on the right side of the screen, then click on the big capital T. That will give you a special cursor that you can place in the document where you want to start typing.) Of course, you can always print out the sheets and fill them in by hand.
Writer Beware® Blogs! hosts guest blogger Mridi Khullar Relph (@mridikhullar), who provides useful information on International Writing Scams and How to Protect Yourself. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that many of the overseas scams Mridi discusses have kissing cousins (or identical twins) here in the U.S. but working outside your home country always adds additional complications, so if that’s something you’re contemplating doing, or already doing, be sure to give this post a look.
The cover of your book, irrespective of format, is critical to whether it’ll be purchased or not. I know that seems unfair—that some graphic artwork can have more influence on a potential reader than your own words—but it’s true. If you’re publishing independently, what do you do? Design it yourself? Hire someone to do it? If so, who? Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn) has invited guest poster GX (@graphiczsdesign) to discuss this in Want Professional Ebook Covers on a Budget? Try Ready-To-Go Options. GX discusses his (?)/her (?) own company’s work and how authors can use ready-to-go covers, and one of the comments also suggests three other sources.
THE WRITING LIFE
Jurgen Wolff (@jurgenwolff) retells a story originally told by Tim Ferris, the author of “The 4-Hour Work Week” in How big should your next writing or other creative goal be? (The missing reasons) on his Time to Write blog. The basic point is that if you aim for mediocre goals, that’s the most you’ll achieve. Aim higher and you have the chance (nothing guaranteed but the chance) at something far better. Thanks to my friend Lucinda for pointing out this piece.
Of course, if you aim high, there’s the risk of doing nothing but leaving a big splat mark on that tall building you tried to leap over in a single bound. Two posts address this fear: Nathan Bransford’s (@NathanBransford) Living on the Edge of Confidence and Self-Doubt and Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) 5 Ways to Deal with Failure on the Books & Such Literary Agency blog. Both discuss living with the fact that failure is a part of doing and that how you deal with failures is more important than the failure itself. If you’re needing a confidence boost about now, check out these two posts.
Rachelle then comes back with a post on her own blog about creating a realistic Holiday Writing Plan. Her five suggestions are nothing but common sense, but as the saying goes, sometimes common sense ain’t so common, which makes reminders like these valuable.
So what do you think? Have any thoughts or observations about any of these posts? Share them in the Comments below.