Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 7 & 8, 2013

Today’s post has to be one of the most value-packed I’ve had in quite a while, and that’s saying something. And for those of you in parts of the US who are bracing for some really rough weather this weekend, maybe this stuff will be what you need to carry you through—so long as you have electricity and the internet, anyway. Enjoy!

CRAFT

Jordan Dane (@JordanDane) is about to bring out the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy that is driven by, among other things, a love triangle. Because the story focuses on relationships, her 5 Key Steps to Adding Depth to Your Fictional Relationships post on The Kill Zone is worth a look, even if you have to get through the biographies of the characters first. The steps can be summarized this way: give the characters both internal-internal conflicts and internal-external conflicts to deal with.

Now this is ironic (and a little creepy): a post on The Kill Zone (above) about a love triangle and relationships, and a guest post by retired homicide detective Garry Rodgers (@GarryRodgers1) on The Creative Penn on How To Get Away With Murder—or fail to get away! All in the service of writing stories, of course, but still…. So if you’re interested—for art’s sake!—take a look. If you dare.

Denise Jaden (@denisejaden) covers a subject that I’ve rarely seen discussed: Writing Effective Grief in Fiction. It’s so easy for writers, especially new ones, to take a character’s grief and turn it into melodrama, and in so doing, drive the reader away. Jaden’s five practical tips for how to make that character’s emotions real, compelling, and yet not overwhelming (for the reader) will be valuable for anyone who’s writing about characters in fiction or memoir who are dealing with loss.

Let’s finish up this section with a terrific post by C. S. Lakin (@cslakin) on KM Weiland’s WORDplay blog: The Secret to Show, Don’t Tell. Everyone wants to know that, right? Okay, so I’ll spill the beans right now: every scene needs a “high moment,” the instant where the point of the scene (which every scene must have) is made. It can be big or subtle, but everything else in the scene builds toward that point and that moment and the movie camera of your writing is what follows the characters and the action to them. Take the reader on that journey to that moment and you can’t help but “show.”

BUSINESS

When Kristine Kathryn Rusch (@kriswrites) titles a piece What Writers Need to Know, you can bet that, well, it’s time to get another cuppa before you start to read it. Let me see if I can catch the basics here.

  • Whether you’re traditionally published or indie, you need to know a lot about writing, publishing, managing a business, design… and a lot more.
  • You’ll never know everything there is to know and you may not ever know much of it really well.
  • If you’re not continually learning more, you’re falling farther and farther behind. That said, don’t try to learn something all at once. Work on each topic in bite-size chunks.
  • Writing well is still your first and foremost obligation but your chances of having a sustained successful writing career are minimal at best if that’s all you learn and know.

This long as usual post rambles a bit—you can safely skip down to the first list and skim after it—but if you want a career, this is advice worth reviewing.

Along these same lines, Joe Konrath (@jakonrath) calls his latest post How To Sell Ebooks. Can’t get much clearer than that. The thing is—and this should be no surprise—there’s no silver bullet or secret password but instead ten different areas we each need to address in order to have a shot at success. Why should we listen to Konrath? Because he’s now sold over a million copies of his books.

It’s certainly not every day that I point you to a piece from Science News magazine, but today’s online post by Rachel Ehrenberg (@REhrenberg) is appropriate. Even though In Hollywood, buzz beats star power when it comes to predicting box office take is about movies and popular music, it tells how scientists have demonstrated that the most successful ones earn their success not from who the performers are but how much the work is being talked about after, but especially before, it is released, and how widespread the buzz is. This is what the marketing experts I occasionally cite here say about books, too: build your platform before you publish.

Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) answer to the question Are Self-Pub Books the New Slush Pile? is a qualified no. Her five reasons have mostly to do with marketing considerations; in fact she doesn’t say a word about the slushy quality of many self-pubbed books. That’s refreshing. It’s refreshing, too, that she’s open to the possibility that self-pub books could become more important over time. (Well, they already are.)

FUN

Yeah, after all that heavy information, a little fun is what we need to close off the day and head for the weekend, and you’ll find it here, in Carol Barnier’s (@Carol_Barnier) Pet Peeves and Grace on WordServe Water Cooler. You can guess what the “pet peeves” part is all about, but will you be byoosgusted by it? Actually, I think you will. 🙂

What was your favorite article today? Or the one that helped you most?

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

Wednesday already! How did that happen? Putting up that Critique Technique post yesterday must have thrown me off. Well, anyway, lots of terrific stuff to get to, so no more stalling!

As usually, we’ll start with matters of craft:

  • Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) announces and begins a new series on DIY MFA called Creative Power Tools. Tool #1: Words gets things going. This is somewhat surprising post because it compares words to weapons. OK, we’ve heard that before, so we’ll see how this series develops. Gabriela also announces an upcoming project with super-publicist Dan Blank.
  • Speaking of “super,” super-agent Donald Maass (@DonMaass) is back on Writer Unboxed with a piece on why and how your characters need to change Without Delay. What’s interesting here is that his observations, as he notes, apply to all genres of fiction, “literary” or otherwise. The longer you delay having your characters change, he writes, even a little bit, the more likely it is your readers are going to get bored and look for something else to do.
  • Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) looks at another thing that can chase readers away when she asks Is Your Scene Break a Lying, Cheating Fraud? Well, that’s certainly a provocative question! To be clear, it’s not the scene break itself that can be the problem, but what happens on either side of it. If the scene before the break ends with something dramatic but the scene that follows doesn’t live up to the expectations the drama placed in the reader’s mind, that’s where you get into bait-and-switch territory, which is what Kim helps you avoid.
  • We go back to Writer Unboxed for Therese Walsh’s (@ThereseWalsh)  Interview with Erika Robuck (@ErikaRobuck), author of the recent book Hemingway’s Girl. What I want to point you to is the portion of the interview,starting about 5 questions in, where Robuck discusses dialog, layers of the story, and publication. That’s not to say the first part of the interview, about research and Hemingway’s relationships, aren’t interesting, but I think the later parts are better.
  • We’ll close this section with 3 Free Photo Tools for Author Bloggers on Joel Friedlander’s (@JFBookman) The Book Designer blog. Friedlander introduces us to photopin.com, which helps you search through the gazillion photos that are posted on Flickr for the one(s) you really want. Then there’s freeonlinephotoeditor.com, which is, surprisingly enough, what it says it is. The last tool is one that exists in Google Image search: a way to use one image to search for others like it. Now that’s pretty cool. I haven’t tried any of these tools myself but they do sound like they’re worth a try.

OK, on to business stuff:

  • Patrick Icasas (@PatrickIcasas) writes the first of two guest blogs relating to freelance writing this week on Writer Beware! Blogs, this one on 7 Freelance Writing Scams and How to Fight Them. These scams have to do more with folks who are writing non-fiction pieces for hire than writing fiction “on spec,” but even fiction writers should give this post a look. You’re not immune to at least some of them.
  • On a MUCH happier note, Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) provides 6 Tips for Successful Networking. Rachelle’s writing about the in-person kind, the kind that leads to sweaty palms, stammering and blathering, and much general discomfort among writers. It doesn’t have to be that way, and Rachelle’s tips can ease the fear and pressure.
  • Finally, Kimberly Vargas writes in Radio Days on WordServe Water Cooler about her experiences with the online radio program, The Authors Show. Since I’m going to be doing a local radio interview myself tomorrow, this had some personal interest, but the point is that radio interviews are often a lot easier to get than other kinds of publicity. Local radio stations with talk segments or a talk format are always looking for content and not all shows are about politics. Online programs reach an even wider audience which can be, at the same time, more focused by topic or genre.

One more piece, in the “that’s interesting” category: Michael Swanwick has a short piece about what appears to be The Oldest Novel in the World & Its Genre. The book is Callirhoe by Chariton of Aphrodesias, and it was written around the first century A.D. Would you believe, it’s a romance novel? I guess since the author was from Aphrodesias, that shouldn’t be a surprise.