Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Dec 12-18, 2021

You’ve made it through Monday. Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Richelle Lyn is discovering the art of book coaching. Then, Gabriela Pereira interviews Sacha Black about crafting your side characters. Amanda Polick reveals three ways the holidays can revive your book. Then Kerry Chaput delves into HERstory, the woman’s side of history. Melanie Moyer recommends five sci-fi books about humans creating artificial intelligence. DIY MFA

Princess Weekes explains why we keep retelling Persephone’s story. Melina Pendulum

K.M. Weiland examines the two halves of the climactic moment. Helping Writers Become Authors

Christina Delay wants you to use awe to spark creativity. Then, Lucy V. Hay explains how to write a compelling antihero. Writers Helping Writers

What are foil characters? Reedsy

Jenny Hansen shares the dreams and confessions of a disorganized writer. Then, Lynette M. Burrows offers 35 tips to a healthier writer you in 2022. Lori Freeland returns with to comma, or not to comma (part 2). Writers in the Storm

Joanna Penn interviews Lisa Cron about Story or Die. The Creative Penn

Elizabeth S. Craig: common mistakes that pull readers out of stories.

Emily Zarka reveals the origins of Krampus, the yuletide monster. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Jim Dempsey sees the future in stories. Then, Barbara Linn Probst takes a closer look at trusting the reader. Porter Anderson gets provocative about chaos, coherence, and the dream of a narrative. Writer Unboxed

Kimberly Fernando provides seven steps for tackling a revise and resubmit (R&R). Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle presents six archetypes for sidekicks. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains how Martha Wells fell into some toxic tropes: building the Raksura.  Mythcreants

The good girl trope—why women can’t win. The Take

Angie Hodapp discusses reactive goals vs. proactive goals. Pub Rants

Nina Munteanu: the Witch’s Hat and other fungi tales.

Rebecca Nicholson interviews Carrie-Anne Moss: “There was a scene in the first Matrix with me in stilettos. I could barely stand straight.” The Guardian

Inverse interviews Shohreh Aghdashloo about Chrisjen Avasarala and the final season of The Expanse.

Minyvonne Burke and Michelle Garcia: acclaimed author and activist bell hooks dies at 69. NBC News

Cassie Da Costa hails the second coming of Octavia E. Butler. Vanity Fair

Vincent Schilling announces that Reservation Dogs [loved it!] nominated for a Golden Globe. Indian Country Today

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Happy solstice and cool yule, to those (like me) who celebrate!

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 24-30, 2021

Welcome to February! Winter is progressing, the light is returning, and we’re beginning to see signs that the lockdown is once again flattening the curve. Yes, there have been problems with the vaccines, but we will see a resolution, sooner rather than later.

You’ve been so good, wearing your mask, maintaining physical distance, washing your hands. Keep it up! This is the way we beat covid-19. Reward yourself for all your good work with some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Barbara Linn Probst takes a closer look at writer time and reader time. Elizabeth Huergo offers some readings for writers: John le Carré and George Orwell. KL Burd: the soul of art. Later in the week, Heather Webb is writing through the pain. Then, Julie Carrick Dalton says, I choose joy, dammit! Kristin Owens says, you asked for it: when it’s time for critique. Writer Unboxed

Why are we so obsessed with characters being redeemed? Melina Pendulum

Janice Hardy wants you to stop being nice to your characters. Fiction University

Tiffany Yates Martin helps you understand third-person point of view: omniscient, limited, and deep. Then, Susan DeFreitas explains the one thing your novel absolutely must do. Jane Friedman

Shaelin shares 8 simple ways to make your writing better | Reedsy

Then, she explains how to write a closer (or more distant!) point of view | Reedsy

K.M. Weiland: story theory and the quest for meaning. Helping Writers Become Authors

Lisa Hall-Wilson shares four ways to write deeper with personification. Kris Maze advises that if your writing’s in a slump, get into the flow! Writers in the Storm

Why The Hunger Games’ Katniss represents all teen girls. The Take

The bombshell trope, explained. The Take

Christina Delay is creating from the familiar. Writers Helping Writers

Gabriela Pereira interviews Julie Carrick Dalton about multiple timelines, climate fiction, and a childhood code of honor. Then, Sara Farmer interviews Sherry Thomas. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle recommends nine jerkass traits that aren’t toxic or abusive. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five emotional arcs that fell flat. Mythcreants

Vigilantes, retribution, and the pursuit of meaningful justice | Like Stories of Old

John Tattrie introduces us to the extraordinary inner world of Charles R. Saunders, father of Black “sword and soul.” CBC

Michael Martin interviewed Cicely Tyson about her new book, Just as I am, prior to her death. NPR

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 24-30, 2020

Welcome to June! However you’ve been weathering the pandemic, I hope you’re keeping safe and well. It’s time to reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

But first, my brief weekly update.

#Pandemiclife continues, and I’ve heard some confirmation that my employer will keep up to 90% of staff working from home. So, I’m here for the long haul, as expected. I’m also just coming off two weeks of virtual training and entering into two more. In recent years, training of any kind has exhausted me. Virtual training brings its own complications. Still, I seem to be doing a decent job. The feedback has been positive, in any case.

The added distress of violence against people of colour here in Canada and in the US is depressing. It’s reprehensible and I keep hoping—naively—that we’ve grown past such hateful conflicts. My faith in the human race is crumbling.

Here are some good words from some good people (we can take some comfort in that):

Abigail K. Perry demonstrates a Story Grid scene analysis of Giver of Stars. Then, Brenda Joyce Patterson promotes writing small in viral times. Later in the week, Sacha Black shares five ways to improve your description. DIY MFA

Sacha Black drops by Writers Helping Writers, too: three ways to differentiate your characters.

Shaelin explains how to discovery write your novel. Reedsy

Laurie Schnebly Campbell considers the pros and cons of writing a series. Then, Lisa Hall-Wilson offers three exercises to help you dive deeper into character emotions. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland devotes this week’s post and podcast to an editing Q&A. Helping Writers Become Authors

How to stay motivated as a writer. Reedsy

September C. Fawkes stops by Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog: how to write subtext.

Jessi Rita Hoffman discusses the problem of self-conscious writing: do you torture your metaphors? Jane Friedman

Janice Hardy shares a handy checklist to strengthen the narrative drive in your scenes. Then, Swati Teerdhala explains when to tell rather than show. It’s such a delicate balance! Fiction University

Robin LaFevers wants you to break through writer’s block. Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci helps you set the scene.

Jami Gold: what do readers want from a story’s POV? Then, she explains that word choice is about more that picking the right word.

Chris Winkle shares six character archetypes for love interests. Oren Ashkenazi facetiously lists seven reasons it’s definitely okay to ignore storytelling rules. Mythcreants

Thanks for visiting. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my friends.

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 24-Mar 2, 2019

All rightie, then! It’s time for some informal writerly learnings.

Lisa Hall-Wilson: how to make dominant female characters likeable. Then, Tiffany Yates-Martin helps you get unblocked and avoid writer’s block. Later still, Orly Konig shares the secrets to turning a lemon into a book. Writers in the Storm

Julia Munroe Martin advises on the care and feeding of the weary writer. Barbara O’Neal is a writer seeking experiences (it’s called filling the well). Then, Jeanne Kisacky asks, what keeps your characters up at night? Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci offers her top tips on writing healthy relationships.

 

K.M. Weiland examines her difficulties with writing: seven things to try when writing is hard. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy explains the difference between archetypes, tropes, and clichés. Later in the week, Janice explores one common way writers weaken their descriptions. Fiction University

Emily Wenstrom shares her tips for decluttering your social media accounts.  My latest column came out on Tuesday. How to build an alien: extremophiles. Then, Gabriela Pereira interviews Glynn Stewart about twisting the tropes of military science fiction. DIY MFA

Jerry B. Jenkins stops by Writers Helping Writers to help you write backstory through dialogue.

Chris Winkle wants you to plan super light stories. Mythcreants

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something to help you progress in your creative endeavours.

Be well until next time!

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Ad Astra 2015 day 1: Deconstructing tropes

First, a disclaimer

These posts are composed of my notes. Often, because of the scheduling, I enter sessions after they’re already in progress. I write by hand, so as I’m writing what I believe to be a salient point, I may miss the next one. I do my best to catch as much as I can, but things will be missed. Also, if, in my haste I recorded something incorrectly, please don’t be shy about coming forward and letting me know. I will correct all errors post-hasty once informed of them.

We good?

Alrightie, then!

Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Leah Bobet, Charlotte Ashley, K.W. Ramsey

KWR: What if you love genre, but hate tropes?

LB: Tropes are clichés. They’re mass produced. They’re widgets. Genre is more than just the tropes that are common to it. Genre is an assumed set of knowledge. This can include tropes, but it’s more enjoyable for most readers if the writer alludes to tropes rather than spelling them out in the same ways as other writers before them.

GZM: We have archetypes, the Hero’s Journey. That’s structure. To use a construction metaphor, not every house will be built the same way, even if the builders start out with exactly the same materials.

KWR: You have to understand the tropes to use them properly. When you understand what an FTL [faster than light] drive is, and the scientific problems attendant upon creating one, then you can use it well.

GZM: Butcher does that with Harry Dresden. He’s a wizard, and powerful, but he lives without any of the benefits you would think go with that power.

CA: Dresden is basically an import into urban fantasy of the hardboiled detective trope.

KWR: And there are writers who do this well. Firefly mixed science fiction and the tropes of the western. Defiance tried to do something similar, but they didn’t understand the tropes they were trying to use in enough depth to use them well. The writers behind Firefly were conscious of what they were doing and wrote around their tropes intentionally.

GZM: After the Civil War, people went west, not seeking adventure, but because they’d been on the losing side.

KWR: Defiance trots out their tropes too obviously: here’s the stagecoach episode, etc.

LB: A photocopy of a photocopy eventually fades to nothing. If we see the same tropes used similarly in story after story, they lose meaning.

GZM: If the writer wants to be successful, she has to bring something new to inform the trope and give it fresh life.

LB: We all read books for different reasons. Some readers want comfort and familiarity. For these readers, tropes are fine. Some readers want their minds blown.

CA: In that sense, Firefly does not subvert its tropes.

GZM: It’s not just the tropes, though. Characters can bring something fresh as well. Tropes alone will only get you so far.

CA: Comfort reading is like decor. Mind-blowing reading is deeper.

LB: The stories that meant something to us as children need to be reinvented for a modern audience.

GZM: Myth is bigger than the telling.

CA: Look at Diana Wynn Jones’s retelling of Tam Lin.

LB: The books that point out that “this is messed up” further the conversation. We need these conversations.

KWR: Literature is cyclical. It responds to what has gone before but also invites the next voice to the conversation. The pendulum is always swinging.

GZM: In the 50’s and the 60’s, the cold war was a huge trope in science fiction. Recent authors have brought that tropes forward successfully.

LB: There’s a genre fallacy that there should only be one conversation going on, though. For example, post-colonialism is not part of the SF conversation.

CA: A Stranger in the Laundry speaks to that.

[There was a short side-track into the Hugo’s controversy that I chose not to record.]

CA: Is Star Wars not a post-colonial narrative?

KWR: The Jedis are basically samurai. It all goes back to the Tokugawa gun law.

GZM: What about Carpe Demon? The protagonist is an everyday person. She has to get the kids to school, work, manage her household, and still fight demons.

LB: That’s just good writing. Rounded characters are the result of good writing. Kate Elliott is an underrated writer. Karen Addison’s The Goblin King is fabulous also.

And we were out of time.

Next week: You get a double shot. Science Fiction in YA from Ad Astra 2015 and my next chapter April update.