Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 23-25, 2013

Several sets of FAQs for you today, plus tips on trilogies, writing magic, getting more out of Google+, and building your writing community. But before we get to that…


Starting Friday, Great Stuff will not only have a new home but a slightly different name. I’m changing it to focus on what it provides: value to you. So when we make the move, look for “Great Stuff for Writers,” in place of the current title. It’ll have its own place on the new web site’s menu line. My other posts, under the title of Critique Technique, will remain the same, but they too will have their own menu line item. On Wednesday I’ll give you the new web site name and URL and then on Friday—deep breath—it’ll all officially go live.


KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) finishes her series on scenes and sequels with some Frequently Asked Questions. Alas, her call for questions elicited only two and, well, let’s hope that those folks just came to the series late. So instead, Katie pulled in some questions that had been asked in the comments to previous parts of the series. Some are pretty basic but others drew out insightful or informative answers. Here’s a big THANK YOU to Katie for the series. It’s a keeper. (Do I sense a small ebook? :))

Other author’s who’ve written about writing a series have discussed overall story and character arcs and the like, and those are important things. Jordyn Redwood (@JordynRedwood) discusses some other details specifically regarding Writing a Trilogy that, if not taken care of, can catch the writer out, things like timelines, characterization absolutes, and moments that tie later books back to the earlier ones. Series writing introduces layers of complexity not found in a standalone work, so posts like this are valuable.

Here’s a big shout-out thank you to Becca Puglisi (@beccapuglisi) of The Bookshelf Muse for bringing in horror writer Michaelbrent Collings to discuss The Magic of Misleading. Why? Because reading it made me realize one of the things that’s missing from the first draft of my current WIP. Are you ready? Here it is: “the secret to misdirection isn’t withholding information, it’s giving extra information, and focusing the audience’s attention on that.” (emphases his) That light you see is the 25 Watt light bulb flickering on above my head! There’s more to the post, of course, but this is a nugget I’ll be keeping. Maybe you will too.


Query letters: one of the greatest mysteries in the business of getting published. What makes a good one? What do agents want??????  Back in September of last year, Chuck Sambuchino (@ChuckSambuchino) wrote a roundup of frequently asked questions. Now he’s back with Query Letter FAQs (Part II): 10 More Questions Answered on Writer Unboxed. If you’re currently querying or want to get published by a traditional publisher, take a look at this post. But keep one thing in mind that Chuck only hints at: always always ALWAYS check the web site of the agent or agency you’re submitting to first to find out what they want and how they work.


Demian Farnworth’s (@demianfarnworth) Seven Ways Writers Can Build Online Authority with Google+ (really 6 do’s and 1 don’t) is something of a paean to Google’s social media platform, but I suppose you could call it a practical paean. As I’ve noted elsewhere, in many ways Google+ isn’t all that unique (the major exception being the Hangouts free video conferencing feature), but what they’ve done is take a number of things other social media sites do, such as LinkedIn’s groups, and amplified them (Google+’s circles). So if you’re already on Google+ and want to know how to use it better, or you’re still trying to decide whether to add it to your social media repertoire, it’s probably worth your time to visit this long post on Copyblogger.


We all know—and keep telling each other! :)—that the writing life is a lonely one, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be, and Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) is starting a series on how you can expand your circle, or as she calls it, Build Your Writing Community with In-Person Events. She offers tips on where to find such events, which to choose, and what to do once you get there. If you’re looking for ways to escape your garret, this could be for you. Then in part 2, she discusses Writing Classes and Workshops. Surprised that someone hosting a blog on creating a do-it-yourself Master of Fine Arts equivalent would be advocating finding classes? Don’t be—it makes sense in the context of creating your own community. Classes are simply another way of meeting like-minded and like-skilled writers. And be sure to check out her tips for evaluating the people and the classes.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, October 16 and 17, 2012

A surprisingly light mid-week, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing terrific out there. For example…


Sophie Masson (@SophieMasson1) continues her series of articles on characters on Writer Unboxed, focusing this time on Sidekicks and Henchmen. The roles might seem similar, but they’re not. Check out the post for the details.

As KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) points out, we’re always being told to “raise the stakes” in our stories. And yet…is it possible to go too far, even in fiction? The answer’s “yes,” so you need to know Why Your Stakes Shouldn’t Be Too High.

Nicola Morgan (@nicolamorgan) guest posts on Writer Beware with a positive and very helpful piece on one of the hardest things we ever have to write: the query letter. In Write the Letter That Sells Your Book, Morgan shows you how to start a two or three word epithet (that’s a description, not an obscenity!) about your main character, expand it to 25 words, then expand it again into a paragraph that makes that agent or editor think I’ve GOT to read this book! (And don’t forget to include wolves. ;)) This one’s a keeper.


Emily Wenstrom (@EmilyWenstrom) introduces 5 Literary Journals Born of the Digital Age in a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog. These are definitely babies of the Facebook/Twitter era: one wants stories no longer than 420 characters, poems no longer than 140, another prefers a length of 433 words. If this kind of flash is for you, check out this post.

Laura Pepper Wu (@laurapepwu) also guests on Jane’s blog with this important information: Is Your Author Website Doing Its Job? 6 Things to Check. Practical and actionable advice, whether you’ve got a web site already or, like me, know you need to build one. This one’s another keeper.


Today’s last piece is just interesting. There are as many as 31 million dyslexics in the United States alone, people for whom reading is very difficult. Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) introduces us today to A Typeface Just for Dyslexics on The Book Designer. The free, open-source typeface, called OpenDyslexic makes the bottom of each character thicker, which designer Abelardo Gonzalez says will keep letters from appearing to roll over or turn into others, one of the symptoms of dyslexia. Now, if someone could just invent something that would make my fingers type all the letters of the word in teh rihgt odrer, that would be GRATE!


There will be no Great Stuff on Friday. Wait, let me make that more clear: I won’t be posting anything on Friday. I’ll be stuck in meetings all day. “See” you on the internet on Monday.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 7, 2012

Getting a late start today as I prepare for a business trip (which may mean light or no posts the next few days). Off we go, then…

  • It takes Juliet Marillier a little while to get to her three suggestions on what not to do when Writing in Miniature (that is, when writing short stories) on Writer Unboxed, but the destination makes the trip worthwhile.
  • Moving a step forward from the writing to contacts with agents and editors, Jane Friedman (@janefriedman) offers suggestions for How to Influence Editors in a Way That 90% of Other Writers Don’t on Rachelle Gardner’s (@rachellegardner) blog. Ninety percent? Even if that’s exaggeration for effect–which I don’t know that it is–wow! And the tips are so easy.
  • And finally, speaking of critiques, thanks to a brave but anonymous author, The Kill Zone’s first page critique service continues, with Jordan Dane (@jordandane) leading the way, on The Year of the SSSSSnake.

So, what great stuff have you found?