Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 26 & 27, 2013

Well, here it is: the last Great Stuff post on the Cochise Writers blog. OK, not quite. I’ll put up a reminder so everyone knows these posts and my Critique Technique posts have moved. As of Friday, March 1st, everything will be over at my new web site, www.rossblampert.com. Great Stuff for Writers and Critique Technique will have their own menu items and pages. You’ll have to resubscribe, I’m afraid, but the RSS feed links and subscribe-by-email boxes are up at the top of the sidebar so they’re easy to get to. Every site is a work in progress, so I’ll be adding new features as I can and as they become relevant. I hope you like the look and feel of the new site. I’m pretty excited about it and I hope you will be too.

Meanwhile, there’s lots of Great Stuff here as well.

CRAFT

Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. @GrammarGirl, clears up once and for all (you believe THAT, don’t you?) when and whether to use the Oxford/Harvard/serial comma with an graphic from OnlineSchools.com in The Oxford Comma, in Pictures. You may want to ensure you’re reading the post and graphic at a relatively large screen expansion because the color contrasts in the image aren’t the strongest, but the information itself is clear, concise(,) and easy to absorb.

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) has a post today on words that writers consistently confuse with others that are similar: Never Confuse These Words Again. Her list of doubles and triples is short—only 10 sets out of many—but still a good review. The one of her commenters pointed out a blog called Homophones Weakly (notice the “mis”spelling) that covers this topic in a fun way.

KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) deals with a problem we all run into once in a while: Episodic Storytelling. When writing is called “episodic,” that’s generally not a compliment. It happens, Katie tells us, because the scenes that make up these episodes don’t seem to matter to each other—one doesn’t build into the next. The solution is straight-forward (to describe if not necessarily to do): make sure each scene contributes to the overall story.

BUSINESS

Every so often the issue of “traditional” copyright bubbles up (I’m putting traditional in quotes to distinguish it from the Creative Commons copyright) and it has again on Writer Beware ® Blogs, in Victoria Strauss’s (@victoriastrauss) Why Not to Register Copyright for Unpublished Work. This piece has two parts: one clearly related to the title (short form: it’s not necessary and does nothing for you) and the other about why it can actually place you at risk. Say what? It turns out, Strauss reports, that there are various unscrupulous companies (she names one) that troll copyright and Library of Congress registration lists looking for naïve unpublished authors to scam with offers of “services” (exorbitant fees not mentioned, of course).

Here’s an important one for you: Thomas Ford’s Common Creativity: Understanding the Rules and Rights Around “Free” Images on the Web on ProBlogger. As Ford discusses, “free” isn’t necessarily an absolute term when it comes to images—or documents, for that matter—and if you’re going to use a “free” image, you’d better know exactly what you’re allowed to do under what circumstances. Just because something is available at no charge doesn’t mean there are no restrictions on what you can or can’t do with it. This is a long and detailed piece, particularly when it comes to the Creative Commons kinds of copyrights, and may be more than you can absorb in one reading, so bookmark it or flag it as a favorite and check out the resources the Creative Commons folks have put together for your use.

TECHNOLOGY

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) has a terrific post on 7 Ways to Look Good on Your Webcam. As I noted in my comment, I’m not an ENT doctor—I really don’t care to be looking up your nose—so her #1 suggestion to put your webcam at eye level or a little higher is a biggie. Her other points and those of her commenters are all good. With Google Hangouts, other video chats, vlogs, and podcasts all becoming more common, these pointers are all necessary for looking at least decent on camera.

THE WRITING LIFE

Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) continues her writing community series with the start of a sub-series on how to Build Your Online Writing Community, the key word being “Online.” While she discusses the blogosphere and Twitter in a bit of detail here, she promises more posts on other parts of the online world in the future. As she notes, there are so many options that it’s hard for someone who’s just getting into social media to know what to do first. Let’s hope this series will help people like that (like you?) make that choice.

See you next time at our new site!

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.