Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Mar 24-30, 2019

Here we are in April (!) and here’s another week’s worth of informal writerly learnings.

Susan Spann explains how to prepare and use a DMCA takedown notice.  Liz Michalski is biting the bullet (journal) and tracking her writing habit. Barbara O’Neal: spring planting for writers. Heather Webb answers the question: no, really, why do you write? John J. Kelley wonders, whose character is it, anyway? Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares four pacing tricks to keep readers’ attention, courtesy of Captain Marvel. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten tips for writing your first chapter.

 

Jules Horne drops by Jane Friedman’s blog to discuss writing for audio: understanding attunement.

Joanna Penn interviews Damon Suede about strengthening your writing with the power of words. The Kobo Writing Life Podcast interviewed Damon a couple of weeks ago and it was both informative and entertaining 🙂 The Creative Penn

Manuela Williams: seven questions to ask when building your author brand. Gabriela Pereira interviews Samantha Downing, Barbara Poelle, and Jen Monroe about the author/agent/editor relationship. Laura Highcove lists five steps to create agency in your writing life. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle examines six stories sabotaged by their tone. Then, Oren Ashkenazi covers six common villain mistakes and how to avoid them. Mythcreants

Alison Flood looks at the rotten side of self-publishing: plagiarism, “book-stuffing,” and clickfarms. The Guardian

I hope you found something you can use in your creative practice or business.

Come back on Thursday for some thoughty inspiration.

Until then, be well, my friends!

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Mar 17-23, 2019

Here is your weekly batch of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy 🙂

K.M. Weiland wants you to find your thematic principle. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft, inspired by Jo Eberhardt’s last post, writes about layers of antagonism and why you should embrace them. Dave King: the lessons of genre. “In fact, here’s a dirty little secret: literary fiction often behaves like just another genre.” Julie Carrick Dalton looks at novel writing intensives as an alternative to the MA. Stephanie Cowell explores her novelist’s journey: the ghost worlds within me. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle: narrating a close point of view. Mythcreants

Chris Winkle produces the next instalment in the goal-oriented storytelling series: novelty. Then, Sara Letourneau has a helpful strategy if you’re struggling with flashbacks: try using the PAST method. Writers Helping Writers

Lisa Cooper Ellison offers a primer on schmoozing for introverts: how to network like a pro. Then, Barbara Linn Probst stops by to talk about beta readers: who, when, why, and so what? Jane Friedman

Mary Robinette Kowal shares some great advice for debut authors: so, you’ve been nominated for an award …  She follows up with another pithy piece on status and hierarchy shifts. Check out the series navigation links. This stuff is GOLD.

Helen J. Darling is helping you build your publishing team: your cover designer. DIY MFA

Alexa Donne muddles through the middle.

 

Janice Hardy digs into her archives for this fun test to check your scene’s narrative drive. Fiction University

Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes (better known as Bayard & Holmes) help you figure out which firearms can’t be silenced. Then, Margie Lawson drops by to discuss creating compelling cadence. Writers in the Storm

Angela Ackerman visits Jami Gold’s blog: creating characters who clash.

Jenna Moreci helps you identify your category (not genre).

 

Bryan E. Robinson, PhD shares eight ways to stay mentally fit and mindful during the writing process. Writer’s Digest

Nina Munteanu: surfing Schumann’s wave and catching the ion spray. Everything in life is vibration.

And that was Tipsday.

Hope you found something that will take your craft to a new level. Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Mar 3-9, 2019

I have a lot of informal writerly learnings for you this week.

By the way, a couple weeks ago, I decided to group posts by blog/source. Are you liking this slight rearrangement, or do you find it more difficult to read? Let me know, if you wish, in the comments. I can always change things back. More whitespace on the page can be helpful for readers.

Oren Ashkenazi examines six common mistakes in fight scenes and explains how to avoid them. Bunny explains how to use the uncanny in your writing. Mythcreants

Greer Macallister explains what it means to be a working writer. Sophie Masson outlines the options for planning your book launch (‘cause not every publisher has budget for that anymore). Donald Maass eschews his usual concise and pithy titles in this installment: nasty, menacing, and murderous protagonists and why we love them. Alma Katsu offers tips for complex historical research. David Corbett writes about what it means to sink into the bog. Kathryn Magendie wants to thank those who encourage us to write and dig deeper. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn interviews Sacha Black on how to create heroes and villains for the Creative Penn podcast. Then Bharat Krishnan stops by to discuss how to write diversity authentically. The Creative Penn

James Scott Bell visits Writers Helping Writers: does every protagonist need an arc? Spoilers: yes, but it doesn’t have to be a positive or negative change arc. Sometimes … it’s flat (no change). Janice Hardy stops by later in the week to point out three ways writers tell, don’t show and how to fix them.

Abigail K. Perry examines another of James Scott Bell’s signpost scenes. This time, #8: pet the dog. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into flash non-fiction. Gabriela Pereira interviews Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams for DIY MFA radio. Rachel Thompson list five ways to celebrate women and non-binary authors on International Women’s Day. DIY MFA

Fae Rowan wants to write the perfect book. Spoiler: it’s not possible. What to do instead 😉 Then, Julie Glover wonders, have you forgotten to have fun writing? Writers in the Storm

Susan DeFreitas: when your query reveals a story-level problem. Jane Friedman

Self-rejection: what it is, why you do it, and how to chuck its ass out an airlock. Chuck Wendig, Terribleminds.

Ammi-Joan Paquette is taming the synopsis with these four steps. Writer’s Digest

Jami Gold says, what makes a story uplifting is more than a happy ending.

Rosa Saba: authors irritated by “smug” defense of the Vancouver website they say is stealing their work. Readers, shun ebook.bike. SHUN! The Toronto Star

And that is tipsday for this week. Come back on Thursday for some inspiration and research resources.

Until then, be well, 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!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 17-23, 2019

Good evening, my lovelies! It’s time to peruse your informal writlerly learnings for the week 🙂

Leanne Sowul exposes the battle between time and energy. Later in the week, Bess Cozby shows you four ways to protect your creative brain. And then, Marielle Orff shares five steps to giving an awesome podcast interview. DIY MFA

Vaughn Roycroft: storytelling and stepping beyond the veil. Writer Unboxed

Rachael Stephen explains how to revise your story.

 

Phoebe Wood shares her strategy for turning your first draft into a second draft.

 

Angela Ackerman stops by Writers in the Storm to share the One Stop for Writers Fast Track Tool for character creation. Then, Tasha Seegmiller invites you to sit with your discomfort: negotiating difficult critiques. Later in the week, Laura Drake shows you how to exorcise redundant writing.

Becca Puglisi visits Helping Writers Become Authors: seven things your character is hiding.

Oren Ashkenazi: seven signs of bad media analysis. Mythcreants

Diego Courchay describes how an Italian writer’s fictional garden became a place of literary pilgrimage. Atlas Obscura

And that is tipsday for this week. Be sure to check in on Thursday for your weekly dose of thoughty.

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 10-16, 2019

Here we are. How is it already the third week of February? Console yourself with some informal writerly learnings *hugs*

Louise Tondeur guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog: the myth of plan first and write later (or, you never only write one way).

Rheea Mukherjee joins Writer Unboxed: writing characters who are “smarter” than you.

Kathryn Craft: your story’s valentine to the world (AKA, your query, synopsis, and pages). Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland critiques a brave writer’s work to show how paragraph breaks guide the reader’s experience. Helping Writers Become Authors

September C. Fawkes says, look forward, not backward, to pull your reader in. Writers Helping Writers

Margie Lawson stops by Writers in the Storm to help you put fresh faces on the page.

Sara Letourneau offers some further reading on the theme of family. DIY MFA

Becca Puglisi visits DIY MFA: five vehicles for showing emotion.

Chris Winkle: optimizing your story ideas for stronger engagement. Then, Oren Ashkenazi reveals six mistakes that can kill a great plot. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig says, your ideas aren’t that interesting. This is less about making you feel bad than about making sure your ideas don’t take the place of, like, actual writing. Terribleminds

In honour of Valentines, Jenna Moreci offers her top ten tips for writing sex scenes. [Features discussion of sex and sexuality. Yeah. Even so, had to be said.]

 

Krista D. Ball rants: why is AUTHOR NAME taking so long to write their next book? This made me wonder if these impatient readers think they own writers? At the cost of $10 to $20 per book? Really? Gear down, people. Reddit

Later in the week, an 11:45 pm amber alert (and subsequent rescind after midnight) in Ontario resulted in a strange outcry of people who didn’t want their sleep disturbed, even after they learned that the child featured in the alert had been murdered. Seriously? Disturb me all night, every night, if it saves a life.

On that boggling note, I leave you until Thursday, when you can come back for some thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends.

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 27-Feb 2, 2019

And here I am, back with your weekly dose of informal writerly learnings.

Kathryn Craft: the story that holds you back. Hint: it’s the one you tell yourself. Writers in the Storm

Kim Bullock advises you to vanquish emotional overwhelm to increase productivity. Writer Unboxed

Elizabeth Huergo honors Mary Oliver on Writer Unboxed: walk slowly and bow often.

Cathy Yardley guides you from cool idea to premise. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt mines her (misspent/not misspent) RPG youth: when your characters have minds of their own. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares her nine writing goals for 2019. Helping Writers Become Authors

Manuela Williams shares five simple SEO tips for authors. DIY MFA

Pamela Taylor explains how to create authentic details: keeping secrets. DIY MFA

Bess Cozby shares her experience going for six weeks without social media. DIY MFA

Sofia Ashdown shares her top ten editing tips. The Creative Penn

Chuck Wendig explains the story about the story, or, how writers talk about their books. Terribleminds

Becca Puglisi guest posts on Jerry Jenkins’ blog. Got subtext? Writing better dialogue.

Janice Hardy explains what writers need to know about hooks. Fiction University

Chris Winkle shares lessons from The Maze Runner’s point of view disaster. Then, Oren Ashkenazi tackles the problem with oppressed mages. Mythcreants

I post about writer’s grief. WarpWorld

Sangeeta Mehta lists 19 diversity-focused writing conferences and events in 2019. Writer’s Digest

I hope you found something you need to fuel your creative efforts this week.

Come back on Thursday to get your weekly batch of thoughty.

Until then, be well.

tipsday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 16-22, 2017

This will be my last Tipsday for a few weeks, but it’s a good ‘un 😉

K.M. Weiland delves into writing voice and the six things you need to know to improve it. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sacha Black visits Writers Helping Writers: myths and misconceptions of villains and mental health.

Then, Dario Ciriello drops by to discuss plotting for pantsers. Writers Helping Writers

Janice Hardy continues her birth of a book series with developing your characters. Fiction University

Jerry Jenkins stops by the BookBaby blog: become a demanding self-editor.

Annie Neugebauer explains why thought triggers are the Chekov’s gun of writing tricks. Writer Unboxed

Louie Cronin: stupid advice I have taken about writing. Writer Unboxed

Orly Konig Lopez: the shifting priorities of your writing career. Writers in the Storm

G. Myrthil: when life throws your writing routine off balance, remember these three things. DIY MFA

Linda Bernadette Burgess shares five things to remember when your manuscript hits close to home. DIY MFA

Oren Ashkenazi lists five magic items that break their stories. Mythcreants

Joanna Penn interviews Jeff Goins on the Creative Penn podcast.

Frank Miniter offers a no nonsense guide to marketing your book. Forbes

Kim Fahner talks about the Raining Poetry Project on CBC’s Morning North.

Nicole Brewer speaks of the influence of Anakana Schofield and Miriam Toews. Many Gendered Mothers

Constance Grady rereads Jane Austin’s most romantic scene: “I am half agony, half hope.” Vox

Christina DesMarais lists 43 embarrassing grammar errors even smart people make. Inc.

The 2017 Sunburst Award Shortlist.

Liz Bourke, Sleeps with Monsters: stop erasing women’s presence in SFF. Tor.com

Nikki Vanry lists five SFF novels with badass middle aged heroines. Book Riot

Hillary Kelly: our biggest questions after the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere. The Vulture

Eeeeeee! Emily Asher-Perrin announces the 13th Doctor! Tor.com

And moar eeeee! Leah Schnelbach shares the thrilling new trailer for Stranger Things 2. Tor.com

So much good stuff is coming out of SDCC 🙂 Germaine Lussier shares the latest Thor: Ragnarok trailer. i09

Come back on Thursday for some thoughty 🙂

Until then, be well.

tipsday2016

Why you should enrol in Writing the Other

Disclaimer: I’m a total newb at trying to express my thoughts and feelings on diversity and cultural appropriation. If I inadvertently write anything offensive or harmful, I invite you to let me know. But I have to start somewhere, try and fail, or I might never improve. Thank you, in advance, for your time, attention, and kind intervention (if required).

I’m not rolling up content as I have in other posts of this nature.

Out of the gate, I’ll recommend Writing the Other (WtO) to any writer concerned about writing inclusive fiction with respect and dignity accorded to characters unlike the authorial self. If you’re not concerned with these vital aspects of craft, then stop reading this post now. There’s nothing for you here.

K. Tempest Bradford and Nisi Shawl deliver an amazing and thought provoking course, the point of which is not to police creativity, but to ask authors to examine their fears, context, and assumptions, and to do their best to write inclusively. WtO will give you the tools to write characters of other ROAARS (race, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, and sex) characteristics with integrity, and the resources to deepen your knowledge and understanding.

The point is that writing well is hard work, and writing well and respectfully of otherness takes effort and practice, like any other aspect of the craft. You have to be open, willing to learn, willing to practice, and willing to think critically about the creative choices you make in your fiction.

Those of us who come from a background of privilege (white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, etc.) and those of use who align fairly closely with the unmarked state, still want to write inclusively. If we do so without due consideration, education, or research, we run the risk of harming the people from the same communities as the characters we write from sheer ignorance.

This can take the form of tokenism. Only have one character who is a person of colour? Why not include two, or even three, so readers can see that these characters are, first and foremost, people? Explore the experience of these characters in a fully-fleshed and respectful way. Give them voices. Compare and contrast them. Give them as much attention and thought to them as you give your main character. They may not have as big a role to play in your story, but they deserve to be real.

If your one gay character just happens to be the antagonist, you may inadvertently send the message that you think all gay people are like the antagonist. If your one trans character is the sidekick who gets killed, they become disposable, and that is another negative message you may unintentionally send.

If you have a disabled character who is “cured” by technology or magic, you effectively erase the character’s identity and struggle. If the character has to be able-bodied for the story you’re telling, then tell the story with an able-bodied character. Think about why you want to write a disabled character. If it’s to honour their struggle, then honour it. If you just think it’s cool, that may be true, but your choices may bear more thought.

Recently, in Canada, there was the “appropriation prize” debacle. [I’ve been curating articles and posts on the issues, in Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday, for the past few weeks. Peruse, if you’re so inclined.]

Last year, there was the Lionel Shriver controversy. [And yeah, I curated that one, too.]

Cultural appropriation happens when you take a story that belongs to a culture other than your own without permission and consultation (both are required) and write about it in a way that dishonours the originating culture.

This can happen in any of the arts.

The word diversity has been thrown about in publishing and writing so much in recent years that the word has almost lost its meaning. I’ve heard of speakers who have retreated from panels on literary diversity because they are often attacked or their statements taken out of context for the sake of theatrics or sensationalism.

Diversity, to me, means that people of colour, of other sexual orientations, of differing ability, age, religion, or sex, should write their own stories. And they should be welcomed into the publishing world. We need more editors, agents, and other publishing professionals who are from different backgrounds, too.

This doesn’t mean that no one should write a character that doesn’t share their background. If they do, though, they should be prepared to take the time and do the research to represent that character authentically.

For myself, I’ve decided that I won’t write a protagonist that is significantly different from me. That’s my personal choice, though. I won’t prohibit anyone else from doing that. And there are some writers who have written the other brilliantly, so I won’t say that it can’t be done. I choose not to.

But I want to write inclusively about a world that’s like the one I see every day. To do that, I have to educate myself. And WtO was a first step on that path.

As always, be well, be kind, and stay strong.

Muse-inks

What’s my storytelling superpower and my writer’s Kryptonite?

Because I was away last weekend, I didn’t have a chance to cover my DIYMFA question of the week (QotW) and now I have two to answer (!)

Note, before I begin: superpower and Kryptonite come into play in this context with respect to the kinds of characters I create and the weaknesses in writing those kinds of characters. I have other writerly strengths and weaknesses, but I’ll limit this post to the questions asked.

QOTW 4: What’s Your Storytelling Superpower?

I’ve done the quiz three times so far, and it’s been Protector every time 🙂 Here’s what the result of the quiz says:

Your superpower is writing superheroes! Your favorite characters see their world in danger and will do whatever it takes to protect it and those they love in it. These characters may not wear spandex and capes, but they show almost superhuman fortitude in their quest to prevent disaster, whatever the cost to themselves. From Scarlett O’Hara to James Bond to Iron Man, you’re drawn to characters who stand up to the forces of evil and protect what they believe in.

Looking at the protagonists of my novels (so far) they are all protectors, to a one.

In terms of her series arc, Ferathainn (Fer), is ultimately going to heal the world (literally, the planet). She just doesn’t do it the way the spirit of the world wants her to 😉 In Initiate of Stone—by the way, I’m considering a change in title, but I’ll hang on to IoS in terms of discussing the book on this blog—Fer is out to avenge her friends, family, and the destruction of her village. In Apprentice of Wind, Fer defeats Yllel (temporarily); Book three sees her trying to stop a continental power struggle and war while trying not to become the god-killer her father has told her she will be; In book four, she helps to stop a civil war among the dwergen and liberates the dragons; and in book five, Yllel escapes his temporary prison, forcing Fer to confront the monumental task of healing the world, which will eliminate the threat of the mad god for good. It all revolves around Fer’s solution to god killing, which is what she faces from book two on.

She’s all about saving the world, to a greater, or lesser, degree.

Charlene (Chas), protagonist of Figments, starts out trying to solve the mystery of her father’s murder and ends up becoming a protector-mage, defending the balance between Earth and Regnarium.

Marushka runs away from a distasteful destiny (becoming the next Baba Yaga) but, once out in the world, struggles with her emerging powers and a shadow organization bent on the subjugation of all womankind.

Brenda, protagonist of my new adult science fiction (and yeah, I know it’s a genre stretch, but I have seen them out there), Reality Bomb, fails to stop a fellow PhD in physics candidate from conducting his experiment to prove time travel is possible. As a result, her reality is destroyed, and she is thrown into the past of a parallel reality in which nothing is the same, especially her alternate self . . . except that her former colleague is still working toward his fateful experiment and the destruction of another reality.

Finally, Gerod, protagonist of my MG fantasy, Gerod and the Lions, just wants to save his sister from the Child Merchants. He ends up convincing the king that he should outlaw the Child Merchants altogether.

All protectors. They each become larger-than-life characters and they each want to preserve something or someone. But . . . the way in which they preserve often involves changing the way things are, or are done. So they’re all a bit on the disruptor side of things as well.

DIYMFASuperpower

QOTW 5: What’s Your Writer’s Krpytonite?

The elaboration of the question indicates that the writer’s weakness is often related to her greatest strength.

So I guess the problem for me would be that my characters, by virtue of their talents and abilities, might come off as too perfect to the reader, the stereotypical Mary Sue or Gary Stu.

Not to worry, my characters all have their challenges and foibles.

Fer fears she might become a monster because of her magickal talent (origin story stuff). She has to overcome the trauma she experiences from witnessing the destruction of her village and the murders of the people she loves. It’s some serious PTSD. Though she has to fight battles, physical and magickal, she firmly believes that killing is wrong and has to overcome a lot of self-loathing to come to terms with the reality that killing, right or wrong, is sometimes necessary to serve a greater good.

Charlene has been suffering from depression and insomnia since her father’s death and is obsessed with finding her father’s killer, which she sees as the solution to all her problems. She’s willing to lie and steal (literally—she commits a B&E) to bring the killer to justice. And when she learns that the murderer is one of her parent’s friends, that her mother might be involved, and that she’s the monster to her father’s magical Frankenstein, things get complicated.

Marushka, having been raised in isolation by what most people would understand as a supernatural serial killer and her sentient, chicken-legged hut, is just strange. She doesn’t know how to relate to people. She doesn’t understand body language or facial expressions. Her reactions are very clinical. She just wants a normal life, but comes to understand quickly that it won’t be possible for her, and not just because she’s inheriting Baba Yaga’s powers.

Brenda faces a unique challenge in the alternate reality she’s thrust into. She’s trapped inside her alternate reality self, a woman who is so different from her it shouldn’t be possible. Brenda first has to discover some common ground and a way to reach her alternate self without making her think she’s lost her mind before they can find a way to stop the time travel experiment from unravelling another reality.

Gerod is simpler. He’s small, and, as a consequence, weak, and this frustrates him to no end. Though he tries, he can’t protect either himself or his sister from the Child Merchants, only luck saves him, initially. He can’t rely on his parents, who sold his sister in the first place. Stubbornly, he follows the Child Merchants out of his village, but they are several men who know how to fight, and they have many more children than the ones they bought in Gerod’s village. A failed attempt at a night time rescue ends with Gerod fleeing through the woods . . . and right into the paws of one of the titular lions.

You could say I like being mean to my characters. They kind of have to become bigger-than-life to face the challenges I put in front of them.

My next chapter update will have to wait for tomorrow.

See you then!