Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 29 & 30, 2012

Today marks the end of this year’s NaNoWriMo. If you were NaNo-ing, I hope you made your target. Now the fun begins: editing that (bleep)y first draft. 😉 Maybe the posts below will help you do that and get the final result published.

CRAFT

When Jeanne Kisacky writes about deep and shallow plots, she isn’t necessarily referring to graves, although for someone writing a murder mystery, that certainly could apply. Instead, what she’s referring to in Building a Plot of Variable Depth on Writer Unboxed is how plot relates to pace and character. When the plot is shallow, the story’s pace is quick. When the plot is deep, that’s a time of exploring character and change. A well-written story moves back and forth between the two.

Two posts on characters to check out. How Do You Create Characters? on The Kill Zone asks TKZ readers for their techniques. Mine’s there and you can check out other writers’ as well. Jennifer R. Hubbard (@JenRHubbard) has a concise discussion of The supporting cast on her blog, writerjenn, with good examples of how writers have used them badly and well. Thanks to Nathan Bransford for pointing out this piece.

There are also two posts on tension/suspense. Ollin Morales’ (@OllinMorales) How to Create Suspense on Write to Done uses an example of a Hitchcock movie to make the point of telling the reader just enough—and no more—to keep them wondering what will happen next. Victoria Mixon’s (@VictoriaMixon) longer Making Tension Tense on Writer Unboxed says much the same thing, but with three examples.

BUSINESS

Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) of Writer Beware joins the chorus of negative reviews today in Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division. In case you hadn’t heard, Archway is S&S’s link to Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), which I mentioned last time. Unlike Dean Wesley Smith’s previous post on the topic, however, Strauss goes into much more detail on why sensible writers should stay far far away from anything having to do with ASI. Read and heed.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s latest Business Rusch (@kriswrites; again, as always, very long) column, Getting Rid of the Middle Man, is really about Kickstarter, one of the “crowdsourcing” web sites (along with FaithFunder and IndieGoGo), writers and others can use to fund projects. Unfortunately, getting to the real meat of the piece—what to do and not do in order to have a reasonable chance at getting your Kickstarter project funded—requires skipping screen after screen of other material. If you’re thinking of using Kickstarter or one of the others, the piece is probably worth a look, but plan on hitting the Page Down key several times before you get to the good stuff.

Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) introduces something I think is very cool: A New (Free) Way to Sell Books from Your Sidebar. Agent Claire Ryan (@rayntweets) has created a WordPress plugin called Buy This Book (available through the WordPress Plugin Directory) that lets blog visitors to click on an image of the book’s cover and get a slide-out menu of links to websites where the book can be purchased. While the plugin is available only for blogs/web sites using WordPress.org software, Ryan also provides the HTML code that can be copied into a WordPress.com blog and modified as necessary—plus the instructions on how to install it properly as a widget.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Gabriela Pereira’s (@DIYMFA) Write It! Wednesday piece, Your Writing Superheroes talks about hers, which may or may not be interesting. But one of her four stood out to me: the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. (a.k.a 826NYC). These folks are part of an organization called 826 National, a nonprofit that supports eight writing and tutoring centers around the country for kids 6-18—in New York, DC, Ann Arbor, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. (Darn shame it’s just eight.) Anyway, if you live in one of these cities, have a thing for kids and writing, and want to do some volunteer work, you might want to check them out.

JUST FOR FUN

Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epigraph to The Great Gatsby is a fake—that he quoted a character from one of his previous books? Check out Robert Bruce’s (@robertbruce76) latest 101 Books post, The “High Bouncing Lover”?

And one more thing, from Dan Blank’s (@DanBlank) e-newsletter today. You may have seen images like the ones in this video by @kottke as chalk drawings on city streets… but you probably haven’t seen anything quite like them, either. What’s the relation to writing? They’re both illusions: some are optical, some are mental. Enjoy.

Come across something great? Don’t delay: share it in the Comments below!

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 15 & 16, 2012

A light post today but what I have is all over the map—literally as well as writerly. Here we go:

CRAFT

Ray Rhamey’s Writer Unboxed post Characterize through Experiential Description, Part 2 touches on something that maybe ought to be an obvious technique, but wasn’t, at least for me: using characters’ experiences in real-story-time to describe not only what they’re experiencing but who and what they are. It’s a way of holding a mirror up to the character that I found interesting—and should be using!

BUSINESS

Caleb Jennings Breakey (@CalebBreakey) guest posts on Rachelle Gardner’s blog about what you might do if your project needs funding. (“Project” includes “novel.”) The post is about three so-called crowdsourcing web sites, kickstarter.com, faithfunder.com, and indiegogo.com, but especially Kickstarter. In case you don’t know, these sites let you advertise a project (defined very broadly) that you’d like to do but need funding for. You set a funding goal and a date by which you want to have it all raised. If your idea is compelling enough, people will donate (actually pledge to donate) to it. If you reach or exceed your goal, your donors are obligated to actually sending the money; if not, they’re not. There’s a lot more to it than that, and Caleb’s post only begins to cover it all, but it’s a good place to start learning about these programs. Which makes me wonder: could this be one of the futures of publishing?

I asked that question with a purpose. We all know about the turmoil the entire publishing industry is in right now. Money is at the center of it, or close. This week’s Business Rusch piece by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (@kriswrites) deals with her (WARNING: highly negative) take on Agents and Money. To be clear, Kris has had some bad experiences with agents and publishers. It’s terrific that she is willing to share what she’s learned with the intention of helping us avoid the troubles she’s had. But then there’s this statement from this latest (very long) article: “Are there good agents in the world? Yes. I partner with one on occasion…. But are there bad agents? Infinitely more bad agents than good.” Infinitely more? Really? This article is worth reading; just understand where the author’s coming from and make your own decision on how much to accept and how much to ignore.

As a counterpoint to that piece, here’s Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) on Writer Beware ® Blogs: Publishers Hate Authors? Really? The post is about a Huffington Post piece by Michael Levin titled “Why Book Publishers Hate Authors.” Let’s just say that Strauss disagrees with both Levin’s article and his “logic.” Somewhere in this noise there’s got to be some sanity. Doesn’t there?

FUN

Whew. Let’s close with something that I found fascinating: Kevin Kelly’s (@Kevin2Kelly) latest post on The Technium, The Average Place on Earth. This post is about a project called Degree Confluence with is seeking to have people go to every place on land where a degree of latitude and a degree of longitude meet—the crossing point for each one-degree line—and photograph what’s there (plus the GPS device proving that the photographer was really at that spot). So far, over 6,000 of the 10,000 total intersection points have been photographed and guess what? The vast majority of them are in places that are not urban, not farmed, but wild. Kelly cites unsourced projections that by 2050, most of the planet’s 8 billion people will live in networks of megacities which will result in an emptying of the countryside. Whether that turns out to be true or not, only time will tell, but the project is interesting—and surely the source of many stories!

Found anything great, good, or just fun or interesting? Share it in the comments below.