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.

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Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, October 11 and 12, 2012

Some really excellent stuff out there today on craft and business, so without further ado…

CRAFT

Let’s start with big-picture stuff and work our way down to details.

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which means that we’re going to see lots of articles thereon for the next six weeks. Lisa Cron (@LisaCron) starts the parade with NaNoWriMo—The Pitfalls and How to Deftly Avoid Them on Writer Unboxed. Her keys:

  • PLAN your work before November 1st. A month of flailing is not a productive month.
  • It’s only a first draft. This is the start of something, not the end.
  • It’s all about writing that first draft, not the rewriting that’s going to follow.

Keep those things in mind and you can have a sane and productive month. If you’re going to do it: good luck! Have fun.

Speaking of revising, once you’re working with an editor on a getting-ready-to-be-published work, Dara Beevas (@darairene and @Wiseink) guest posts on KM Weiland’s WORDplay blog on Revising Your Book: Do’s and Don’ts. Eleven do’s and 8 don’ts might seem like a lot but every one is practical, sensible, and easy—at least in theory. 😉

Cutting is a big part of revision, isn’t it? And it can be a painful part. YA writer Sechin Tower (@SechinTower) describes what he’s learned as a teacher of both gifted and at-risk kids in Is Cutting More Important than Adding? on The Kill Zone. One group writes too much, the other too little. Sounds familiar. Check out what he’s learned about finding the right words.

Eileen Cook (@EileenWriter) guest posts on the Guide to Literary Agents blog on 5 Ways to Increase Conflict. She’s got an interesting take, contrasting how the things we try to avoid in real life are the very kinds of things we need to bring into our fiction.

Finally for this section, advertising copywriter Elizabeth Miller Wood (@ElizMillerWood) offers 7 Lessons from Advertising on Rachelle Gardner’s blog about how to make your writing stand up and sing (that’s lesson #2, actually). When every word matters (lesson #3) because each one is pulling your reader forward to an anticipated reward (lesson #5), you’re on track to better writing.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s (@kriswrites) second of three pieces on Why Writers Disappear serves as a transition to the business pieces to follow. In this (long as usual) piece, she looks at writers who get discouraged, can’t handle the solitude, or can’t handle the financial problems that are natural in a writing career. The reason I’ve included this piece is it serves as an opportunity for each writer to ask themselves, “could I handle these things?”

BUSINESS

OK, let’s get on to happier stuff. Like promoting your work! What’s that? That’s not a happy topic? This next post might help.

Carol Costello (@carolcostello46) offers 5 Keys to Pain-Free Book Promotion on The Book Designer. Perhaps the most important of the 5 (actually 8, there are 3 “bonus tips”) suggestions is not to think of promotion as selling but as a conversation between like-minded people. That should help you relax and have fun with the process, rather than turning it into an exercise in agony.

Last piece for the day is a development that really isn’t a surprise in the world of e-books but something that’s needed some time to gestate, and in fact still is gestating: serials. Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) interviews Yael Goldstein Love (@ygoldlove) about the digital publishing effort she co-founded as a Kickstarter project (now more than fully funded) called Plympton, that is partnering with the Kindle Serials program to serialize fiction for digital readers (not just Kindles). It’s an interesting idea and another way for new and established authors to connect with readers and as Carol suggested above. Very cool.

What great stuff have you found? Share it in the comments below.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 18, 2012

Typical light Saturday. Just two items for you:

  • Barbara Scott (@BarbaraScott01) continues her Top 5 Self-Editing Tips series on WordServe Water Cooler with some notes on editing for Character. She relays a story about a correspondence between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his editor, Maxwell Perkins, about a draft of The Great Gatsby. Whether you’ve read Gatsby or not doesn’t matter, this conversation about how well Fitzgerald “knew” Gatsby, or didn’t, and what his intentions were for how he wanted to portray him, is revealing and interesting.
  • We’ve had discussion here before about how to capture a place in prose. Joe Hartlaub’s Kill Zone post Location, Location, Location continues that discussion, particularly with regard to New Orleans and surroundings, and the commenters chime in on how valuable Google Earth has been to them. Joe Moore (@JoeMoore_writer) adds what might at first seem to be a startling idea for a resource–until it’s followed by a flat-forehead salute: www.realty.com for looking at houses, inside and out.

Do you have any special resources you use when you need to find just the perfect place? How about any special techniques for self-editing for character?