Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, December 20 & 21, 2012

Happy New Era Day! The 14th Bak’tun seems to have started without incident. Hope you’re not one of those prepper folks who’s now looking around at their cases of Twinkies® and wondering what they’re going to do with them all. (Oh, right: eBay!) Anyway, today is also Flip-Flop Day. Bet’cha didn’t know that. (And it has nothing to do with politics.) Check it out: 12-flip-21-flop-12. See? Flip-Flop Day. And there won’t be another one until January 10, 2101.

OK, enough silliness. We have SERIOUS stuff to consider.

CRAFT

Jordan Dane (@JordanDane) pulls back the curtain a bit to reveal her techniques for World Building – Indigo-style on The Kill Zone. For those of you who aren’t aware, as I wasn’t, Dane’s latest book, Indigo Awakening, is the next in a YA psychic-mystery series about teens with special abilities who might be the next evolutionary form of humanity. Whether you’re willing to accept that premise or not isn’t important here; what is is Dane’s discussion of how she created the world in which the Indigo children and their variants live and try to survive.

BUSINESS

Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) addresses a subject that can be awkward, or at least lead to unsatisfying results: Should Fiction Authors Be Bloggers? While his ultimate answer is “it depends,” which isn’t very helpful, he does suggest things a new fiction writer might do in order to build a following during those first few lonely years of your career. All of you, dear readers, are part of the path I’ve chosen. Thank you! In time we’ll see where it takes us.

TECHNOLOGY

I realize not all of you have a web site or blog and not all of you who do base it on WordPress. If you fall into the first of those “not” categories, you can skip this summary. If you fall into the second, the basic message is important, even if the specific details may not apply. Anders Vinther writes on ProBlogger, Backing Up WordPress? Don’t Make These 9 Mistakes. Some of the 9—not backing up ever, not backing up often enough, not backing up the right things, not backing up to a secure and separate location—apply to anyone with a blog or web site. Even better, Vinther, who writes for the web site The WordPress Security Checklist, also provides links to other posts and tips to help you do things right. Having had a website crash without a backup, I know how painful failing to do this is.

THE WRITING LIFE

A couple of posts back we had a dozen dozens. Now Harvey Stanbrough (@h_stanbrough) does one better with his occasionally tongue-in-cheek A Baker’s Dozen: Thirteen Traits of a Great Writer. A couple examples: “You are an avid reader” [serious]; “You are vaguely aware of other people, whom you believe probably live in your house because they seem to be there with some regularity” [not-so-serious?].

I’m tempted to send Anna Elliott’s (@anna_elliott)—well, her husband’s, actually—post On the Care and Feeding of Your Writer on Writer Unboxed to a writer friend of mine. Her loving and well-meaning husband isn’t a writer, they live in a very small house, and, well, you can guess the rest of that story. (Or what was the end until she created, with his help, a special writing place.) In any case, Anna’s husband’s eight ways he supports her just might be the sorts of hints you’ll want to share—ever so subtly, of course, like taped to the front side of a 2 X 4—with that special someone in your life. Might make a great Christmas present—sans the 2 X 4, anyway. 😉

FUN

The folks at Writer’s Digest (Zachary Petit, specifically) have put together a fun little set of holiday quotes in Happy Holidays from WD. Phyllis Diller had something to say about the holidays! Who knew?

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

Like many other blogs and bloggers, Great Stuff will be taking a break until just after the new year—January 2nd, to be exact. I’m WAY behind on my Critique Technique posts, so I’ll try to get one or two of them up, but many other things are under way that will lead to IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS soon(-ish). I’m excited about what’s coming and I hope you’ll enjoy the results one they appear on a computer screen near you.

Here’s hoping that whatever holidays you celebrate this time of year, they’re wonderful. And if you don’t have a holiday to celebrate, celebrate anyway! It’s better than sitting around moping and there’s a whole year of new writing waiting just around the corner for you.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, September 14-24 bonus edition

As they say on TV, we’re back, and time to finish getting caught up with the great stuff that came out during my 10 day hiatus. Let’s start to finish with a few more posts on

CRAFT

Adverbs. We’re told they’re almost entirely unnecessary, the nearly useless crutches of the totally hack writer who’s completely unable to come up with exactly the right word. And yet…KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) has a couple different takes on adverbs.

  • The first take, Why the Adverb Isn’t as Dead as Mark Twain Would Like discusses just that. But just for fun (and I’d like to think this was intentional on her part) see how many adverbs you can find in the transcript or catch in the video. Sometimes, indeed, a writer uses adverbs, um, purposefully.
  • And to make just that point, Neil Abbott (@NeilAbbott) writes a counterpoint post on WORDplay that tells you how to Use Adverbs to Create Music for Your Readers’ Ears. What??? Music? Sure, Abbott says. Pick an adverb for its sound or its symbolism. Either use adds something to the work. Then he offers this excellent test for whether an adverb is needed or not, taught him by his first creative writing professor: “How can (some antecedent [the verb]) be (its modifier [the adverb])?” If you can’t answer the question, delete the modifier.

Peter Salomon (@petersalomon) has an interesting post on The Bookshelf Muse in which he describes for the new author what to do after the first draft is done. His key: Attitude Is Everything. Attitude? About what? Well, lots of things but especially about the process of revision. A first draft is just that–the FIRST of many DRAFTS, not the final product. So, Salomon says, learning to love the revision process, after letting the draft sit for a while, is going to be the key to getting to a quality final.

Finally for this section is a thought-provoking piece by Lisa Cron (@LisaCron) on what she considers The Biggest Mistake Writers Make and How to Avoid It. The biggest mistake, eh? What might that be? According to Cron, it’s not know what a story is. Gee, you’d think that would be pretty obvious, and yet… Here’s Cron’s definition: “A story is how what happens (the plot) affects someone (the protagonist) in pursuit of a difficult goal (the story question) and how he or she changes as a result (which is what the story is actually about).” (Italics hers.) “In other words,” she goes on, “story is internal, not external.” Note that she doesn’t say “literary stories,” but “story.” Any story, no matter what genre.

Right, then. Let’s move on to

BUSINESS

New Kill Zone contributor Boyd Morrison (@BoydMorrison) writes about The Movie Deal, what it takes to actually come to fruition, and what it may mean–or not–to the author if it does. A nice little reality check.

Now we’ll jump to a set of posts on

web sites and social media tools:

  • Staying with Jane (@JaneFriedman), she lists resources to help you with Building Your First Website. Note: this is a very WordPress-centric post, so if for some reason you want to use other resources, you can skip this post. But if you like what WordPress offers, this post is a rich source of information.
  • While we’re on the topic of WordPress, Pamela Wilson (@pamelaiwilson) of Big Brand System offers A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting Your WordPress Posts and Pages on Copyblogger, which I found thanks to Joel Friedlander’s (@jfbookman) The Book Designer blog. Wilson provides seven specific techniques, several of which I’m using in this very post.
  • Flitting back to Twitter, Ingrid Schneider (@Gridlocked) tells you how Hashtags can help… you make better use of this important Twitter tool. #GreatStuff!
  • Finally, for this section, Joel Friedlander introduces us to 3 More Ways Google Supercharges Your Searches. If you haven’t heard of Google’s domain search (which works only on Google’s Chrome browser, unfortunately) predictive search, and knowledge graph functions, this will be a valuable post for you.

And as I like to do, we’ll finish for today with a bit of

FUN

Jan O’Hara (@jan-ohara) and her commenters make sure you’ll Never Go Naked to Scrabble: Authorial Words Containing “WIP” on Writer Unboxed. For example: unwipped, horse-wipped, pussy-wipped (now what are you thinking???; it doesn’t, unfortunately, have anything to do with that great Saturday Night Live “product” promotion, the dessert topping for cats), wipped cream, wippersnappers, wipsawed…the list goes on…and on…and, well, what did you expect from a group of writers?

See you tomorrow with our resumed regular schedule.