Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, January 17 & 18, 2013

A full weekend’s worth of Great Stuff reading for you! We open with opening lines, pass through structure, find information and the right (or wrong) readers, gain Facebook fans, writing tools (including a quick-ish way to publish a Word document to the Kindle), and close with a little help from our friends. Should be something for just about everybody.

CRAFT

This is the best piece to start out with: Zachary Petit’s Famous First Lines Reveal How to Start a Novel. Lists of great or terrible opening lines are a dime a dozen, but Petit turns the post over to Jacob Appel, who suggests seven ways to start, and we’re still talking here about the very first sentence or two. These tips are excerpted from a longer Writer’s Digest article (which the link in the post DOES NOT lead you to) but they stand well on their own.

Anna Elliott (@anna_elliott) discusses the differences and connections of Plot vs Story on Writer Unboxed, including what’s more compelling (story) and how to craft that story, whether you’re a full-out outliner or, like Anna, someone who starts from character.

You might think, then, that J E Fishman’s (@JEFISHMAN) 5 Elements of Story Structure on KM Weiland’s WORDplay blog would present a contrary view to Anna’s, but it’s complementary. Element 4 is character development (after establishing and disrupting normalcy and creating turning points, and before restoring order), so it’s just a different way of approaching the bigger problem of creating the story.

BUSINESS

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s (@kriswrites) Found Information has several items worth reading—on how book cover design is so important to branding (identifying the genre and series, if appropriate) of your novel, whether in print or e-book format; kids (and adults) are reading more than before, in print and e- formats, despite all the hand-wringing you hear; and the story of how persistence finally paid off for Eleanor Burford Hibbert (a.k.a. Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and Philippa Carr, plus 6 other pen names). Unfortunately, you have to get past two sections of self-satisfied I-told-you-so chest-puffing first. Fortunately, you can drag your scroll bar down to that third boldfaced header.

OK, let’s assume you’ve accepted the idea that you have to market your work. And you’re trying. And nothing seems to be happening. Or not enough. Gary Korisko (@RebootAuthentic) wonders, Are You Targeting the Wrong Readers? and then offers 7 tips to fix the problem. To some extent he’s channeling Seth Godin’s “tribes” and Kevin Kelly’s “1000 true fans,” but that’s not bad at all.

SOCIAL MEDIA

So you’ve got a Facebook fan page, or think you should have one? If so, then Gillian Marchenko’s (@GillianMarchenko) 3 Top Tips to Gain Facebook Fans on your Author Page on WordServe Water Cooler could be very helpful. That tip about Facebook’s rule against advertising on your cover photo could be a page-saver, all by itself!

TECHNOLOGY

At first I thought Michael Hyatt’s (@MichaelHyatt) My Top 10 Favorite iPad Apps and How I Use Them wasn’t going to have much value to me (and maybe you) because I don’t have an iPad (does that make me some kind of criminal?). But it turns out many of the apps have non-iPad versions as well and I can vouch for their value: Google Calendar, Dropbox, Google Reader, Kindle’s emulator versions, and Hootsuite.

When I saw the title to Ed Ditto’s (@BooksByEd) post on The Book Designer, How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in Under Ten Minutes, I thought, Cool! I need to know that. Then I read his process: use Scrivener. Gaaah! Well, sure, that’s certainly a way to do it. And since Scrivener is famous for its format conversion capabilities, it makes sense. So, OK, let’s read through the rest of the post. The good news is that Ed’s done a nice job with step-by-step instructions and plenty of screen-shot illustrations (Mac-based, but the PC steps are similar if not identical) that really take advantage of Scrivener’s tools. If you can read and carefully follow these instructions, you can do it. “Under ten minutes?” Maybe not but that’s OK. And $40 or $45 for a copy of Scrivener and the time to climb the learning curve is A LOT cheaper than spending hundreds of bucks to have someone do this for you. I’m bookmarking this one.

THE WRITING LIFE

Jan Dunlap’s piece, The Joy of NOT Going Solo on WordServe Water Cooler isn’t about team writing, as I thought it would be, but about the benefits writers get from joining a writers’ group that’s right for them. That last phrase is key: the wrong group can be harmful but the right group can be amazing.

Don’t be afraid the share the Great Stuff. That’s what friends are for, eh? Have a great weekend.

Advertisements

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 25-27, 2012

Welcome to the first full-weekend edition of Great Stuff. Of course we’ve got stuff on craft and stuff on business but we’ve also got something new–stuff on writers’ conferences–and some just-for-fun stuff. We’re well and fully stuffed!

Nothing crafty about the fact that we’ll start with craft stuff.

  • Stories, of course, start with the opening line–hey, how about that for a revelation!–and that’s where we’ll start, too, with Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s Kill Zone piece on That all important first line. There’s some debate in the comments about how important it is that the first line be great, but it should be clear that a bad opening line (á la last Friday’s Bulwer-Lytton contest winners) can be the wrong kind of killer.
  • Next, Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) warns of 5 Ways You’re Preventing Readers from Suspending Disbelief. Experienced writers know all about (or should) avoiding the things on Kim’s hit list–incorrect facts, clichés, plot holes big enough to drive a truck through (oh, sorry), and the wrong kinds of character behaviors, but this is a good review for new writers.
  • Writers’ conferences can be a terrific asset for writers, new or experienced, but only if the potential attendee picks wisely and well. Harvey Stanbrough (@h_stanbrough) offers A Crash Course on Writers’ Conferences on his Writing the World blog.

Moving on to the business stuff, we find:

  • Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) adds another thoughtful, rational piece to the discussion on the publishing industry with her Writer Beware post Vanity, Vanity: Turning the Label Around. Strauss calls for an end to the “vanity” versus “legacy” name-calling and distorted story-telling advocates on both sides are engaging in and refocusing on producing quality work, irrespective of how it’s published. Hear hear!
  • Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) addresses one of the possible reasons for all the name-calling in his somewhat long Writer Unboxed post ‘Social’ Media: Author Ignorance. Porter’s central point is that if you’re going to speak out on the issues surrounding what’s going on in the publishing world right now, it’s wise to have the real facts, not what your own beliefs and biases tell you are the “facts.”

Enough of that serious stuff, let’s have some fun.

  • For starters, Chuck Sambuchino (@ChuckSambuchino) follows up on the Bulwer-Lytton contest with one of his own on Writer Unboxed: the “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest: Seeking Awful Plot Ideas. Instead of an awful opening line, Chuck wants to see your ideas for horrible “loglines”–those one-sentence (60 words maximum) descriptions of a story’s plot. Want to play? You’ve got until 11:59 PM Pacific time on September 3rd to submit your (maximum of 2) loglines. See the post for the rest of the rules.
  • And finally, Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) must have had too much time on his hands over the weekend 😉 because he came up with this: The Publishing Process in GIF Form. I’m not sure I want to know where he came up with all of these animated GIF clips but, well, just take a look.

Have a great week. I’m off to a radio interview on writing in a few hours. Should be fun. (No web link, unfortunately, or I’d invite you to listen in.)