Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 12 & 13, 2013

Hope you’re not a triskaidekaphobe! Today’s double-13 day, and tells you it is: 2-13-13, or 13-2-13, if you prefer. Thirteen what to thirteen? Which reminds me of Albert the Alligator, a character from the old Pogo comic strip, for whom the 13th day of the month was always Friday the Thirteenth, even if it was a Wednesday.

What does that have to do with today’s post? Not a darn thing, as far as I can tell. In fact, you’re double-lucky to be finding out about today’s Great Stuff. Read on!

CRAFT

Here’s some really practical advice that we can all use: Writing Gender-Specific Dialogue from the Writer’s Digest There Are No Rules blog. Excerpted from a book by romance writer Leigh Michaels (@leighmichaels), the piece gives advice to women on how men think and act, and hence speak, and vice versa for men writing female characters. For example, women know and notice which colors go together and which don’t, while men generally don’t notice or care. That reminded me of a woman in my writer’s group who had a (straight) male character noticing that a woman’s eyes matched the color of her uniform. Um, sorry, no. We ad-dress-ed that. 😉 Have you run into this kind of thing? How did you address it?

Some writers like to have music playing in the background when they’re writing. Not me, it’s too distracting. But if you’re like Ann Aguirre (@MsAnnAguirre) and Let Music Set the Mood when you’re writing, you’ll definitely get her piece on Writer Unboxed today. But even if you’re not a writer/listener, there’s something for you here: a song may not set your mood, but it can set the story’s mood or reveal something about a character. In my first novel, one of my characters is a fan of rock music from the ‘60s to ‘80s and snippets from those songs will pop into her head from time to time, usually at high-stress moments. It tells you something about her and adds a new dimension to the scene. Do you do anything like this?

You might not expect to find advice on story-telling on ProBlogger, but that’s what Gregory Ciotti (@HelpScout) offers in The Science of Storytelling: 6 Ways to Write More Persuasive Stories. The piece is based on research by Dr. Philip Mazzocco and Melanie Green having to do with court arguments, but their six keys apply in fiction too. They are: audience, realism, delivery, imagery, structure, and context. Space doesn’t permit me to discuss them here, but slide on over and check out the article.

BUSINESS

So, we’ve all heard that the job’s not over when the writing’s done when it comes to books, right? Sure, but what exactly does that mean? Enter Boyd Morrison’s (@boydmorrison) What to Expect When You’re Expecting…to be Published,  a list of 31—that’s right, 31—things that you’ll do after you get that magical phone call saying your book has been accepted for traditional publication. Indie publishers: think the list doesn’t apply to you? Wrong-o, Kindle breath! Of course, some steps won’t, at least as written. But many will in one form or another, and often they’re entirely on you to do, rather than in response to a request from the publisher. A real reality check here.

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) has published many articles on e- and print book design, so Book Design Quick Tips for Self-Publishers doesn’t have anything really new, except for a hint at the end about something he’s going to be launching soon—a book layout service, maybe? But this pretty long but useful post lays out the basics in simple terms. This stuff isn’t cosmic or über-technical and you shouldn’t fear it. Take the time to study and absorb it and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Nancy J. Cohen (@nancyjcohen) is releasing a new novel and using the free option on KDP Select for a few days. More important for other writers planning to self-publish is the other information on where and how to get publicity and reviews she offers in the FREE on Kindle post. If this is something to do, check out the post.

Looking into what the future might hold for Nancy, J A Konrath (@JAKonrath) discusses his recent experiences with having some of his books sold via KDP Select in his post Amazon Numbers. Three lessons to learn: (1) despite what he says, being a “name” in the business helps. It’s not required but your sales numbers will be better when you’re known than when you’re still an unknown. (2) Giving the book away for free boosts for-cash sales. I’m reading Cory Doctorow’s The Problem Is Obscurity right now, and he makes the same point. (Beats you over the head with it, actually.) (3) The more titles you have for sale, the better. Konrath closes this long post with two other discussions. He doesn’t like Amazon’s demand for exclusive sales fights for 90 days if you sign up for KDP Select (no one but Amazon seems to), and self-publishing gives you control over your work, which is a good thing.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Writing advice from @NathanBransford in <141 characters. It’s better than you might expect. (27 characters left.)

THE WRITING LIFE

I could have put Keith Cronin’s (@KeithCronin) Write Like You Mean It up in the Craft section, but since it’s really about attitude—making the effort to make anything you write a piece of quality writing—it fits better here. Keith’s piece is pretty long but he uses that length to approach the basic thesis—if you want to be considered a professional writer, write like one whenever you write, even on Twitter or Facebook—from a variety of different angles with the intent that if one doesn’t resonate with you, another one will. What do you think? Is this your approach?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 17, 2012

Sorry for posting so late today but meetings and errands intruded. Anyway, lots of variety in today’s posts, from working out your characters to working out your worries to working out your body. Let’s get working!

These first two posts are especially good for new writers.

  • Characterization–how to do it well, especially–is always a big topic of discussion. Anna Elliott (@anna_elliott) uses a number of points from Donald Maass’ book The Fire in Fiction to show on Writer Unboxed how you can present your characters, Warts and All, to your readers.
  • Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) takes us a step up the structure chain on today’s WORDplay post when she writes about Scenes: The Building Blocks of Your Story. She discusses the elements of a scene, when scenes change (at least, one professor’s idea of when), and how to get the most out of each scene.

As you’re getting farther along with your WIP, especially as you get close to publishing it, these next two will be valuable.

  • Lawyer and novelist Brad Frazer (@bfrazjd) discusses why Copyright Is Not a Verb on Jane Friedman’s (@JaneFriedman) blog. This post is a follow-up to his June 15th post, Trademark Is Not a Verb. Brad succeeds at defining what a copyright is–and isn’t–and clearing up some of the myths and misunderstandings (taken together, would those be mythunderstandings?) surrounding copyright with a minimum of lawyer-speak.
  • Speaking of not knowing what you don’t know, or not knowing as much as you think you know, Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) presents a rather disturbing piece on Writer Beware called LendInk, Author Activism, and the Need for Critical Thinking. In brief, LendInk was a web site that legitimately arranged lending and borrowing of Kindle e-books. Some authors, not knowing this was perfectly legal the way LendInk was doing it, made such a fuss on social media that the site was shut down. Strauss goes on to discuss the polarized and uncritical and uncreative thinking going around on the web regarding legacy/traditional publishing and indie publishing and worries about how much damage such “bombast” can do in a time when the publishing industry is in the middle of changes, not anywhere near the end.

We’ll close with a couple of much less stressful posts.

  • And finally, Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) posts some Fun Things From Around the Web. I’m no doctor, but I like the Speed Bump cartoon, myself.

Hey, it’s Friday! Have a great weekend.