Another wonderful week of writerly goodness!
Roz Morris helps writers avoid this plotting pitfall when writing drafts at speed. Nail Your Novel.
Everyone’s getting into video. Should you? Jane Friedman on Writer Unboxed.
Barbara O’Neal makes the case for journaling. Writer Unboxed.
Dan Blank advises you to invest in yourself. Writer Unboxed.
John Vorhaus tells us how to write like the Buddha. You guessed it. Another great post from Writer Unboxed.
Lawrence MacNaughton guest posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. Five questions you need to ask if your story is stuck. Later in the week, Janice is back with how to keep your characters compelling beyond the first draft.
Angela Ackerman explains how to deepen your protagonist by challenging her moral beliefs. Writers helping writers.
Sara Letourneau offers part six of the developing themes in your stories series: the inciting incident. DIYMFA. Later in the week Amy Bearce shares five marketing tips for introverts.
K.M. Weiland also wrote about theme this week: how to create a complex moral argument for your story’s theme. Helping writers become authors.
Chris Winkle shares seven great sources of conflict for romances. Mythcreants.
Steven Pressfield offers his advice on drafting: cover the canvas.
Nina Munteanu shares part two of her writer-editor relationship series: five things writers wished editors knew—and followed.
Marcy Kennedy guest posts on Christine Frazier’s Better Novel Project: five times Katniss nailed deep point of view.
Kameron Hurley confesses that she’s thought about quitting . . . but, don’t quit.
Over on Tor.com, she shares an excerpt from the recently released Geek Feminist Revolution. It’s awesome. You should read the post. And then you should buy the book 🙂
All of us toilers need reminders like this: Rick Riordan on his ‘overnight’ success. It’s from 2007, to give context.
Emma Straub was born to be an author. Alexandra Alter for The New York Times.
Kim Vandels shares the secret to writing great science fiction. The spinning pen.
Airship Ambassador interviews Kate Heartfield about her story “The Seven O’Clock Man” in the Clockwork Canada anthology.
BookBaby offers some tips on how to promote your science fiction on social media.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is an Indigogo success story. The Guardian.
Mental Floss explains why reading makes you a better person with an infographic 🙂
Leila Fadel reports on the delicate task of restoring one of the world’s oldest libraries. NPR.
Louisa Young grew up in J.M. Barrie’s house: we longed for Peter Pan to come for us. The Guardian.
Judith Shulevitz reveals the Bröntes’ secret for The Atlantic.
The teaser trailer for Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast. I’m looking forward to seeing what Emma Watson does with Belle 🙂
Here’s the Ghostbusters UK trailer.
The Little Prince is coming to Netflix August 8 🙂
Laura Prudom explains how Outlander created its most powerful and devastating episode yet. Variety.
And that was Tipsday.
See you Thursday. *waves*
Roz Morris wrote a guest post for K.M. Weiland on Friday the 13th. Though it’s more than a week ago, I didn’t get around to sharing this gem until Sunday (!). So here you go: Four reasons you might be missing out on your best plot ideas.
Katie’s Sunday post and podcast: The crucial way you can figure out how much time your story should cover.
And her Wednesday vlog: Why a killer hook may not be enough to sustain reader interest.
Anne R. Allen offers nine considerations we should all review before we send our first novel out into the world.
Adventures in YA publishing offers this story concept worksheet to help you nail your story’s concept.
Chuck Wendig delivers another excellent post on writing strong women characters. This caused quite the discussion on the SF Canada listserv.
One of those members, Ada Hoffmann, made i09 with her Twitter mini-rant on agency. A cogent summation of the issue.
The second of Nina Munteanu’s posts on rejection. This time: how rejection can help you as a writer.
Dan Blank wrote this wonderful piece for the National Endowment for the Arts on risk in writing. Everyone needs to read this. It’s awesomesauce.
And on the sad side, here’s Oliver Sacks’s piece for The New York Times about what he’s decided to do now that he knows he doesn’t have much time remaining.
Jamie Raintree shares her experience with Storyist on Thinking through our fingers.
Chuck Sambuchino’s definitive guide to manuscript lengths.
Ten authors who took themselves way too seriously. ListVerse.
The writing habits of famous authors, an infographic shared by BookBaby blogs.
The three roles of the shapeshifter archetype. The Better Novel Project.
Buzzfeed shares 21 reasons why the Harry Potter series was the cleverest ever.
So, this priest decided to adapt Leonard Cohen’s “Allelujah” for a wedding:
That’s Dr. Farzana Doctor 😉
Learning to edit your work is learning to know when to let go. Maybe that’s what this workshop should be called: Let it go.
This is what I do. You don’t have to do what I do. Do what works for you in your process, but I hope you’ll find some interesting tips and techniques you can incorporate into your process.
First, a couple of definitions:
- Prose editing is fine tuning: Spelling, grammar, syntax, usage.
- Revision is substantive, structural, plot-related.
To start the editing process, you must have a completed piece of writing.
What was your intention in writing the piece? That core intention will guide you in the editing process.
Plan the process
Prose editing checklist:
- Overused or repetitive words. First identify them. Everyone has her or his words. Then, use find and replace to address them.
- Useless words (Mel’s note: also called zero words, because you can remove them from the sentence without changing the meaning of it) such as, just, only, that, actually, etc.. If you’re not sure what useless words are, Google it.
- Grammar tics. Again every writer has a weakness. (Mel’s note: mine is commas. I either use too many or too few.)
- Passive language. Examples: The biscuit was eaten by the dog (the dog ate the biscuit). She was jumping up and down (she jumped up and down).
- Telling versus showing. Telling has its place, but avoid it where possible. Check your use of adverbs, adjectives, and clichés. These are often signs that you are telling, rather than showing.
- Dialogue. Tags – do you need them, or would an action beat be better? Do all of your characters sound the same? Said is just fine. Read it out loud to see if it “sounds” right.
- I start with editing first, because I find it easier. Some writers may not want to do this because it may mean too many wasted words when the revision stage is reached. Editing first works for me.
- Where does the story begin? Is it too early, too late, is there enough action, conflict?
- The protagonist. What does he want? What prevents him from getting it?
- Other characters. If you can take her out of the story and not alter it, she should go. Every character should serve the story. Every character should be real, have a background, desires and frustrations of her own.
- Keep track of plot and subplots. Structure.
- Description. Is there too much or not enough?
- Flashbacks. Do they stall the story?
- Is the ending satisfying? Is it a resting place?
How to do it:
- Focus. No distractions. Space. Set time, page number, or word count goals.
- Separate new writing from editing and revision. Could be different times of the day, or different days.
- Revision iteratively. Editing as you’re going. Must always make progress, however. S.J. Rozan’s method of Iterative Revision – Bookbaby. Start with previous day’s work, and then move on. It’s like a progressive spiral.
- Change perspective. Step away. Change your font. Read aloud. Print it out. Draw maps. Pretend you are a reader.
- Create a visual outline. Literally cut and paste your scenes and chapters.
- Write a synopsis or jacket copy. Write a logline or tagline. Write a poem. Find your theme.
Asking for feedback
- Who will you ask?
- When is the best time to obtain a critique?
- Be specific about what you want/need.
- Stay general. When did you stall, get bored, get lost?
- Receive your critiques without resistance. Set it aside. Decide what rings true. Ask for clarification (do not defend).
The rest of the workshop was spent reading and responding to the participants’ works-in-progress.
I must admit, I haven’t thought of purposefully editing first. I have edited too early before, and regretted spending all that time fixing scenes and even chapters that I would eventually delete. For me, I would think that revising first makes more sense.
Similarly, iterative revision doesn’t work for me. I get caught in an endless loop of going further and further back. It doesn’t prime the pump for me, it engages my inner editor too early in the writing process and stalls me.
Overall, I found Farzana’s workshop informative and practical.
I hope that you, too, will find something useful that you can use in your daily practice.
Here’s the loot from the last week.
Ellen’s 12 rules for novelists from the Girlfriends Book Club.
How to make the most of your writing time from Aliventures.
The right way to layer desire in your story from MJ Bush of Writingeekery.
Vaughn Roycroft wrote a wonderful post on death and the writer for Writer Unboxed.
Roz Morris answers the question, “How do you keep motivated when your books aren’t selling well?”
K.M. Weiland takes a break from character arcs and returns to her most common mistakes series with this post and podcast about describing character movements.
TED talk on how Sting got his groove back. It’s all about storytelling.
Further insight from Carly Watters on why your query and/or sample pages aren’t generating interest.
A Rewording Life. A worthy, and wordy, project from Sheryl Gordon, in honour of her mother, and all those who have lost their words to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Famous authors and their favourite writing tools, a fun infographic from Bookbaby.
Clarkesworld Magazine interviews Chuck Wendig.
And for more Wendig-ishness, here’s the SFsignal podcast with Chuck and Gail Carriger.
Interesting news: Oryx and Crake series in development.
It’s all Writerly Goodness 🙂