Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 25-31, 2019

Ah. Here we are in September. Back to … all the things. Ease back into your routine with some informal writerly learnings.

Lainey Cameron advises you use a three-tier backup plan. Then Tiffany Yates Martin helps you to reclaim the creative spark in troubled times. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland explains how to use a truth chart to figure out your character’s arc. Helping Writers Become Authors

Julia Munroe Martin wonders, what makes you love your main character? Molly Best Tinsley explains how hearing voice(s) led to order in a previously chaotic manuscript. Barbara O’Neal explains what happens when the book takes over everything. Writer Unboxed

Pathologist Jane Bennett Munro wants to help you explain forensics to readers. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Jeanette the Writer reveals the secret importance of readability. Tess Enterline explains why it’s okay (and sometimes necessary) to step away from our writing.  Constance Emmett shares five tips for writing complex, flesh and blood, LGBTQ+ characters. DIY MFA

Janice Hardy doesn’t want you to create cardboard conflicts. Fiction University

Jami Gold explains how sequels make scenes stronger. Then, Kris Kennedy stops by to explain how to avoid info dumping by making backstory essential.

Chris Winkle: how to turn your fanfic into your original fiction. Then, Oren Ashkenazi answers the question, how do cannon affect your naval combat? Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer considers OK vs. Okay vs. O.K. Writer’s Digest

N.K. Jemisin, Jasmine Guillory, and Lauren Wilkinson: publishing’s still owned by white men. The Washington Post

Nick Venable talks to the creators of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance about the challenges of making a puppet series on Netflix. Saw the first episode—love! CinemaBlend

And that was tipsday. I hope you found something to help you progress with your work in progress.

Come back on Thursday for some thoughty goodness 🙂

Tipsday2019

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 9-15, 2019

Here we are, in mid-June, half-way through the year. Celebrate whatever you’ve accomplished and enjoy some informal writerly learnings 🙂

Arthur Klepchukov says, word count goals shouldn’t be your only goals. Jim Dempsey explains how to respond to criticism. Sarah Callender considers things she forgets to remember when she’s writing a novel: mood. Kathryn Craft: when something good incites story. Writer Unboxed

Julie Glover shares five tips for writing great dialogue from The Gilmour Girls. Barbara Linn Probst takes a fresh look at “writing what you know.” Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci returns with part three of her dialogue series: it’s all about tags.

K.M. Weiland lists six requirements for writing better character goals. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jami Gold: are story goals slowing your pace? Writers Helping Writers

Then, Jami follows up on her own blog: can passive goals ever be good for our stories?

Alexa Donne shares her magic editing hack that fixes pacing.

Nathan Bransford lists the most common mistakes writers make. Then he explains what it takes to write a good climax for a novel.

Leanne Sowul wants you to balance the supply and demand of the writing life. DIY MFA

Sarah McGuire explains how to guide a critique. Fiction University

Cat Rose explains how to survive a conference even if you’re an introvert. The Creative Penn

Bunny helps you select classical music to set any scene. Then, Oren Ashkenazi looks at four problematic tropes to drop and what you can do instead. Mythcreants

Jane van Koerverden reports on the $6K literary award to honour YA books written in an indigenous language. CBC

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something of value in the mix.

Until Thursday, be well. See you then 🙂

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 26-June 1, 2019

You’ve survived Monday! Reward yourself with these informal writerly learnings 🙂

K.M. Weiland unpacks four challenges of writing for a modern audience. Helping Writers Become Authors

Julia Munroe Martin shares lessons from a revision. Writer Unboxed

Leslie Marshman: when giving up is not an option. Tiffany Yates Martin waxes on the rarity of one random “yes” and what to do if you never get one. (Hint: keep writing!) Laurie Schnebly wants you to grab ‘em, keep ‘em, bring ‘em back. Writers in the Storm

Jenn Walton is turning daily news into story fodder. Bronwen Fleetwood helps you figure out whether your book is YA or adult. Charlene Jimenez shares five truths about receiving writing critiques. DIY MFA

Janice Hardy five tips to help you move forward when you’re stuck on a scene. Fiction University

Becca Puglisi explains how to introduce otherworldly elements without confusing readers. Then, Oren Ashkenazi says, stories need to stop promoting torture. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig: on running and writing and how a little becomes a lot. Terribleminds

Jami Gold discusses the importance of balance in our lives.

Mareila Santos introduces us to Beth Phelan, the literary agent behind #DVPit, who brings new voices of colour to the literary world. Ozy

And that was Tipsday.

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Muse-Inks: Back to work

This is going to be a short post because I find myself running behind … already.

I returned to work on Thursday. It was a short week. But, as often happens with short weeks, it felt really long.

My mom’s taking care of Torvi while Phil and I go to work. We’re so fortunate to have her support. I think the house would be demolished if we had to leave Torvi alone. Yes, she would be restricted to the kitchen, but still. There’s a lot of stuff she could get into that we just don’t have the cabinet space to put beyond her reach.

I was worried about how Mom would fare. Torvi’s still wilful and bitey. But it worked out.

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I wish she was always this sweet 🙂

We made it through week one.

But I’m still adjusting. I’m trying to get all the work done that I used to and still give Torvi the time she needs.

It’s been a challenge.

This weekend, I sacrificed some time to go shopping and booked a socialization session with Torvi’s cousin Buster (I’ve shared pics of buster before—Phil and I have pup-sat him for Phil’s sister Steph a couple of times).

And we’ve confirmed that Torvi gets car sick. She threw up on me on the way out and on the way back. Good thing Sunday is laundry day.

It’s good to know. We have to plan for this in the future. Particularly on Christmas Day, when we’re heading back out to Steph’s for the holiday feasting. This was the point of our socialization today. We didn’t want disaster on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Torvi and Buster get along just fine.

This week will be a three day work week. I booked a couple additional days of leave just before Christmas (you’d think I’d planned it!).

Then another three day week after Boxing Day, a four day week after New Year’s Day, and then, full five day work weeks.

It’s a good transition for me and for Torvi.

I’ll keep you informed about how things progress.

Until next I blog, be kind, be well, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

The next chapter: June 2017 update

Hey all!

It’s been a weird, but busy, month. No wonder I’ve been struggling with burnout (at a most inconvenient time).

There was Graphic-Con on June 10th, the Sudbury Writers’ Guild picnic on the 13th, a DIYMFA meeting on the 14th, the Poetry Walk on the 17th, CanWrite! On the 24th and 25th, and on the 29th, The FOLD presented Publishing in Canada at the Sudbury Public Library. And that’s not even counting the non-writerly stuff.

That included a union election, Public Service Week celebrations, and a pre-Canada Day 150 pot luck.

Needless to say, I’m bushed (!)

First: the fun stuff

I eschewed my post last weekend because I was down in Toronto volunteering for and participating in CanWrite! 2017. I drove down on Friday, after work.

On Saturday, I attended J.M. Frey’s Culture Building Workshop (insightful and thought-provoking), the Publishers Panel, Richard Scrimger’s structure workshop (don’t solve for angle A), and the CAA Literary Awards Gala, all at the lovely Humber College Lakeshore Campus.

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My bonus: I won a door prize of shortlisted works, including Alissa York’s The Naturalist, which won the fiction prize and, since she was also the key note speaker, I got her to sign 🙂

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Alissa’s key note was inspirational.

On Sunday, it was the AGM where some important professional organization stuff was decided, and then I was on the road home.

Last Thursday, I attended Publishing in Canada, hosted by The FOLD and Jael Richardson, with a panel of publishing experts who included Christie Harkin of Clockwise Press, Heather Campbell of Sudbury’s own Latitude 46, and Jennifer Knoch of ECW Press.

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It was a very well-attended event (the library staff raided storage to find enough chairs and still people were standing about) and they even fed us pizza 🙂

The balance experiment

Despite all the events in June, I started the month off trying to revise not one, but two works in progress, finish one short story, revise (rewrite, really) another, keep up with blogging, and compose my next column for DIY MFA.

I don’t even try to do that much in a month without tonnes of writerly events to attend.

I have no earthly idea what I was thinking.

You’ll see the gap in my writing and revision. It was about a week. And still, I figured, at the end of it, I could just resume the juggling. Head, meet desk.

As you can see, my efforts were partly successful, but by the end of the month, I gave my head a shake.

The month in word count

While I didn’t hit most of my goals, I made a decent showing, all things considered.

I finished the most recent run-through of Apprentice of Wind in the first three days of the month and moved on to Wavedancer. Even with the break and sporadic revision thereafter, I exceeded my revision goal on the project for the month.

Although I had a much better beginning for Reality Bomb in mind, I couldn’t seem to execute. This only confirms for me that I can’t work on multiple projects in the same phase of the process at the same time. I can’t switch my focus quickly enough.

Even halving my revision goal for RB, I didn’t come close.

I did better with the short fiction, but didn’t complete the story. It’s a good thing that the deadline was extended to July 15 (!).

I didn’t revise a word on the other story I was hoping to work on.

Blogging was fine. I exceeded my writing goal even though I missed out on a weekend.

JuneProgress

Here’s how the numbers worked out:

  • Ascension series: 62,394 words of my 60,000 revision goal, or 104%.
  • RB: 1,889 words of my adjusted 45,000 revision goal, or 4% (yes, you may laugh—I am, honestly).
  • Short fiction: 770 words written of my 2,500 word goal, or 31%. I took out the revision goal from the month.
  • Blog: 6,187 words written of my 5,800 word goal, or 107%.
  • Total words revised: 64, 283
  • Total words written: 6,957

Yeah, I’m a dope.

Moving forward

I’m going to focus on the revision of Wavedancer and get that done before moving onto RB again.

I’m going to finish my new story before turning my attention to revising the other one.

My hope is that simplifying things will keep me from going crazy. Crazy Mel is no fun.

I have nothing planned, event wise, this month—doh! I do have one: a special meeting of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild on the 6th, but that’s it—until I depart for the Writing Excuses Cruise on July 27th.

I’m all about finding my happy place again.

I even submitted another poem for the Rainy Day Poetry Project. My friend, Kim, the Poet Laureate for Sudbury, has obtained the necessary permissions to put poems in invisible, but water-proof paint, on Sudbury’s sidewalks. They’ll only be visible when it rains. My submission isn’t a poem so much as something someone walking along in the rain might appreciate seeing.

In non-writerly news

After losing all its flowers, my fuchsia phalaenopsis (say that five times fast—oh, it’s not that difficult—blushes) orchid has bloomed again, and the one that started growing a stem at work (another phalaenopsis, white, though, I think) is setting blooms!

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Phil and I have been enjoying our strawberry harvest this past month and are looking forward to raspberries shortly. The tomatoes, lettuce, and beans have been planted and are growing well, but are puny compared to my mom’s.

Phil built her a series of three raised beds and her tomatoes and cucumbers are going wild!

I hope that tomorrow the weather is clear. It’s been rainy/stormy lately and I’m looking forward to finally getting the rest of the weeding and some transplanting done.

And that’s it for the next chapter until September (combined July and August update). Since I hope to be somewhere on the Baltic Sea the first of next month, I will be taking another blogging holiday. Though Thoughty Thursday should still post on the 27th, that will be the last blog post until I return from Helsinki on August 13th.

I wouldn’t depend on seeing anything until the weekend following, and that will probably be devoted to the cruise.

Until the 27th, however, I’ll continue my regular blogging.

So until Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong, my friends (but don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to re-evaluate if you’re feeling stressed).

Love y’as all!

The Next Chapter

Trying new things with DIYMFA

Here is the QotW:

QOTW 14: Try a New Technique

Throughout the book, there are visual techniques, diagrams, and exercises to help your writing. These include story-mapping, the revision pyramid, the character compass, and so forth. This week, I want you to choose a technique that is new to you and try it out. Then report back and tell us how it went.

The technique I’ve chosen is TADA.

This is an acronym Gabriela created to assess character. The letters stand for Thoughts, Action, Dialogue, and Appearance.

The idea is that the writer wants to achieve a balance between all four aspects of character, and between characters, in each story. This could even be applied on a scene by scene basis.

So you can look at your characters individually, in scenes, in conjunction with one another, and overall in the story to ensure you’re keeping all of these character elements in the ratios you want.

To visualize this, Gabriela provided a graph, which she calls the character compass. It’s a circle with the letters T, A, D, and A distributed over the cardinal directions. Lines divide the circle into four with Thought and Dialogue, and Action and Appearance, in opposition to each other.

CharacterCompass

I’ve done my best to create a facsimile with Word’s drawing tools, print screen, and The Gimp 🙂

In this particular compass, I’m looking at one character, Ferathainn, in general.

She’s my protagonist and her POV is first person, past tense. There’s a lot of thought and internal monologue with Fer.

She’s studying to become a mage, but at the beginning of the novel, it’s all been theoretical. Her studies have prevented her from maintaining friendships, and so she lives in her head a lot. Part of her studies include rhetoric. Intonation and presentation can affect certain types of magick.

Fer’s been allowed (yes, allowed, it’s a plot thing) to study with her father, who is a bard, and her betrothed, who is an eleph finiris, or songmaster, because magick can be sung. She’s extended this part of her training to include dance, because she’s realized she needs a physical outlet after all this theory and rote memorization.

One of her small rebellions is that she also trains with her best friend, the forester, who teaches her how to fight. Primarily unarmed combat and survival skills.

So Fer is a heavily thinky character, with a good side order of dialogue and action. She doesn’t often consider her appearance, however. There aren’t a lot of mirrors in her little village. It’s not something she’s ever placed a lot of value on.

So I have to be careful when I write a scene about Fer alone, because she’s lopsided.

When she interacts with other characters, it’s primarily through dialogue and action, but I have to pay attention to their reactions to her physically. It’s actually very good for the show versus tell thing.

For example, Fer’s mother has to reach up to hug her, because Fer is tall. She’s of a height with her father, though. Through little interactions like this, readers form a picture of Fer in their minds over time.

When I switch POV to the other characters, they get to describe Fer, but I try not to have them do the ‘classical’ romantic inventory.

In early romances, which were often more adventure tales than what we think of as romances, when the hero meets the love interest for the first time, he waxes poetic and describes her from head to toe. Bad thing to do in a modern novel, though.

When Eoghan first ‘meets’ Fer, she’s all but dead. Having tried and failed to save victims of the war in the wake of the army’s passing, Eoghan decides he’s going to make his stand. He’s going to save this raggedy girl if it’s the last thing he does. Her appearance, other than the severity of her wounds, is secondary to his efforts.

When Dairragh first sees Fer, it’s from a distance, and it’s what she’s doing—performing magick—that makes its biggest impression on him. Dairragh hates all magi with a passion for the sake of the mage who murdered his parents and destroyed his home, including the people and gryphons that were his charge to protect.

So, of course, he hates Fer on sight and his prejudice colours his every interaction with her. At least initially.

The way I see it, readers are going to form an image of Fer in their heads that’s probably nothing like the way I see her. And that’s okay. They get ownership of my characters and my story on a reader by reader basis.

That’s what I want.

Gabriela’s TADA acronym and character compass are going to be one tool I take from the DIYMFA book and incorporate into my writing process.

Since I’m a plantser (part plotter, part pantser) I tend to pants my way through the first draft, but in revision, I can see the character compass being a very useful tool to evaluate how balanced my characters are in any given scene.

I hope I’ve given you enough of a run down that you might be able to make use of this technique yourself. Of course, you could always go buy Gabriela’s DIYMFA book and get a more detailed explanation of TADA and the character compass. The official release date was yesterday.

Jus’ sayin’.

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