Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, January 19-21, 2013

Happy Monday, everyone! It’s a grumpy Monday around here and I’m not sure why. Maybe it was that hard-sell video lying in wait in my inbox this morning. Grrrr. But enough of that: there’s Great Stuff ahead!

CRAFT

Porter Anderson’s (@Porter_Anderson) Writing on the Ether posts have always been frustrating for me. On the one hand, they often have useful or at least interesting information in them. On the other hand, they’re so freakin’ long. I mean, 5,078 words this time? Seriously? Which is a shame, because buried in all those words are two useful sections. One is on a study by Teresa Frohock (@TeresaFrohock) on whether readers can tell the difference between male and female authors when they don’t know who wrote a particular piece. The short answer is no. You can find the full report here. If you want to read the full Ether discussion, including a diversion into whether boys or girls are reading more, and two tangential tweet copies, click here.

So it’s ironic that the next piece here is Joe Bunting’s (@write_practice) 3 Ways to Compress Your Story Like Les Misérables on Writer Unboxed. Compress like les Mis, eh? Turns out, Bunting’s referring to the compression of the original novel into the play and the recent movie musical, which he says requires these steps: choose the right moments; combine characters; and write a good story, then cut. Good advice, all, though tough to do. Be sure to check out the supporting quotes.

Let’s stay with the practical tips and visit Harvey Stanbrough’s (@h_stanbrough) Top Five Mistakes Writers Make. Clear, simple, practical advice that I’m much more conscious of since he pinged me on most of them when he edited my WIP. D’oh!

KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) has pretty much finished teaching us how to structure our scenes, so now it’s time for the sequel, which would be… sequels. And in Pt. 7: The Three Building Blocks Of The Sequel, she does just that. To give you a preview, those blocks are Reaction, Dilemma, and Decision, which every sequel, no matter how brief, should include.

BUSINESS

Anderson also includes a section on author Cory Doctorow’s (@doctorow) take on writing, publishing, and visibility in another section of the same Ether post titled Beyond DBW: More Conferences. What that has to do with what Doctorow says isn’t clear. Here’s the key quote, though (emphasis Doctorow’s): “Here’s the thing about fame: although it’s hard to turn fame into money in the arts, it’s impossible to turn obscurity into money in the arts. It doesn’t matter how you plan on making your money — selling books or downloads, selling ads, getting sponsorship, getting crowdfunded, getting commissions, licensing to someone else who’s figured out how to make money — you won’t get the chance unless people have heard of your stuff.”

THE WRITING LIFE

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) summarizes the key points from the Stockdale Paradox and applies them to the writing life (courtesy Jim Collins, author of Good to Great) in 3 Ways to Change Your Thinking Today. “Stockdale” refers to 8-year Vietnam Prisoner of War Jim Stockdale and the philosophy he used to survive that ordeal. In short, for writers, the 3 points are: decide that you will find success; embrace your current challenges; and face your situation realistically, being willing to work as hard as necessary to overcome your challenges. Easier to say than to do, but necessary.

I hope this sets you up for a great week.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, October 4 and 5, 2012

Quite a variety of great stuff today, so let’s jump right in.

CRAFT

Let’s begin with beginnings. Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) is currently reviewing Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man on 101 Books. One of the things he does with each book he reviews is discuss the opening line or paragraph. Ellison’s first line is, “I am an invisible man.” As Robert writes, “A good first line pulls you in right away” and Ellison’s certainly does. Check out the post to find out more.

Some authors like to create their first line, and in fact their whole book, as part of a team. Frank Viola (@FrankViola) guest posts on Rachelle Gardner’s blog on Co-Authoring: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Co-writing isn’t something I’m personally interested in doing, but if you are, or think you might be, this is a good look at what’s involved.

Finally for this section, freelance copy editor Linda Jay Geldens (@LindaJayGeldens) makes the case for professional editing in A Professional Editor Takes on Self-Editing on The Book Designer. Full Disclosure: As someone who’s WIP is currently being edited by a freelance professional editor, I admit to being sympathetic to her arguments.

PLATFORM AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Decided to give these topics their own section because there were so many good posts on them.

If you’re a Gmail user, check out Nathan Bransford’s (@NathanBransford) brief post, with a link to more info on CNet, on a Two-step E-mail Verification process. If you have ANY web presence at all, including e-mail, which of course you do because you’re reading this post, web security is something you should be not just thinking about but learning how to do. There are a lot of things that are SIMPLE to do if you just know how.

Speaking of simple to do (really!), ProBlogger will be providing a two-post quickie course on HTML, one of the major programming languages of the internet. Darren Rowse (@problogger) announces the plan today on Weekend Project: Get a Handle on HTML. I’ll post the links to these articles on Monday.

As if you haven’t heard enough about Why You Need an Author Platform—and How to Get One, Ali Luke (@aliventures) provides yet more reasons and methods today on Write to Done. Her key point: start small and grow. There’s also a link to special access to some of her Writers’ Huddle paid material (a webinar audio recording, transcript, and worksheet).

Finally here, something you’re familiar and comfortable with: reading blogs! We’re back to Robert Bruce with his 9 Must-Read Blogs for Book Geeks. OK, maybe you don’t consider yourself a book geek, or don’t want to be called one. I’m with you. But who knows, maybe there’s something in one of the 9—actually 10, there’s one more in the comments—blogs you might enjoy.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

When Sarah Callender (@sarahrcallender) writes on Writer Unboxed that You Can Get (Almost) Anything on EBay, including suits of armor, she notes that there’s one thing (the almost) that you can’t: a suit of armor for your heart when you’re rejected to criticized, especially anonymously and/or unfairly. But there are still ways to keep going. Hers include her tribe, her goal, and her faith.

For some writers, though, those things aren’t enough, or aren’t the right things, so in this week’s long Business Rusch column, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (@kriswrites) discusses Why Writers Disappear. Kris’ dozen reasons are too many to list here but they range from “they achieved their goals” (that’s good) to “they became toxic” (that’s really bad and something you want to avoid). Despite the length, this is a post worth checking out.

BUSINESS

Today’s last post comes from the Guide to Literary Agents blog. In it, Michael Larsen, one of the principals of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents, offers some thoughts on The Bookselling Revolution: How to Connect Commerce and Community. Are his ideas utopian or workable? Is competing with Amazon realistic? What about 4,000 square foot, community-based, non-profit local bookstores stocked with Espresso book machines? I don’t know but Larsen’s thinking is at least creative and gets beyond us-vs.-them.

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend.

Find something great about writing or publishing out there on the web? Share your discovery in the comments.