Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 11-17, 2021

Ah, Tuesday! The day when you get to catch up on your informal writerly learnings of the previous week.

Janice Hardy explains how the wrap up works in a novel. #storystructure Fiction University

K.M. Weiland continues her archetypal character arc series by introducing us to the hero’s shadow archetypes. Helping Writers Become Authors

Wonder Woman 1984: gravity would like a word … Jill Bearup

Kathleen Marple Kalb explains how to navigate a book launch through social media. Then, Sharon Oard Warner wonders which comes first: character or plot? Jane Friedman

Shaelin explains how to write science fiction. Reedsy

Then, she covers sci-fi tropes to avoid or embrace. Reedsy

Nicole Souza shares some tips for creating strong female characters. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Alli Sinclair wants to help you use your fiction skills to earn money. Writers Helping Writers

Jim Dempsey tells you how to cut the cost of a professional editor. Then, Kathleen McCleary explains how regrets reveal and forge character. Later in the week, Porter Anderson is suiting up for serialization. Kelsey Allagood: writer, know thyself. Writer Unboxed

Erica Brozovsky: what’s the longest word? Otherwords | PBS Storied

My latest Speculations column went live on April 13: celebrating Perseverance. DIY MFA

Brannan Sirratt defines nonfiction and fiction dimensions. Story Grid

Queer coding, explained. The Take

Piper Bayard lists 10 common kitchen items to use as weapons. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle explains how to teach world terms without confusing readers. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories with unsatisfying endings. Mythcreants

The sympathetic villain. The Take

Kristen Lamb: how to write stories that grip readers and don’t let go.

Thom Dunn explains why it’s harder for neurodivergent people to break into publishing. Boing Boing

Julia Skinner: libraries and pandemics, past and present. JSTOR Daily

And that was tipsday for this week. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 21-27, 2021

It’s almost the end of March (!) and time to get your informal writerly learnings on 🙂

Erika Liodice shares some lessons found in a lost year. Heather Webb: your writing process says you’re a failure. Later in the week, John J. Kelley shows you what happens when everything changes—capturing profound character moments. Then, Desmond Hall shares his Desmond’s Drops for March. Writer Unboxed

Jill Bearup analyzes the Max vs. Furiosa fight from Mad Max: Fury Road.

K.M. Weiland continues her archetypal character arcs series with part seven: the mage arc. Helping Writers Become Authors

In search of absolute beauty. Like Stories of Old

Janice Hardy points out two words that lead to a stronger novel. Then, she explains how to show (and not tell) without raising your word count. OMG, do I ever need this! Fiction University

Shaelin helps you deal with creative slumps, writer’s block, and low motivation. Favourite quote: “That’s the bitch of capitalism, baby!” Shaelin Writes

Lisa Cooper Ellison wants you to beware of chapter-by-chapter critiques. Then, Susan DeFreitas lists three pitfalls when writing from your own life. Later in the week, Sharon Oard Warner helps you find your way to the end. Jane Friedman

Dr. Erica Brozovsky explores the unexpected origins of the word monster (w/ Dr. Zarka). Otherwords | PBS Storied

Elizabeth Spann Craig helps you handle perfectionism. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Becca Puglisi asks, what is your character’s emotional shielding and why does it matter? Writers Helping Writers

Nathan Bransford explains how to write clear physical description.

Savannah Cordova busts some of the biggest myths in the publishing industry. Then, Marina Barakatt recounts how the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl takes over comics: not just dudes in tights. Later in the week, Gabriela Pereira interviews Simon Stephenson about voice, emotion, and metastory in a “mistopia.” Then, Stephanie Kane wants you to look at the bigger story. Gracie Bialecki shares five ways to have a healthy relationship of your writing group. DIY MFA

The serial killer trope, explained. The Take

Lisa Hall-Wilson shows you two ways to help readers connect emotionally with your characters. Later in the week, Ellen Buikema lists ten ideas for inspiring your writing with music. Writers in the Storm

Cordia Pearson: horses as change agents in fantasy. Dan Koboldt

Chris Winkle explains how to pace your story. Then, Oren Ashkenazi shares six principles for becoming a better worldbuilder. Mythcreants

David Shield: this Saskatchewan college is home to some of the rarest books in the world. CBC

Thanks for stopping by. 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, Feb 28-March 6, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Time to indulge in some informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland continues her archetypal character arcs series with part four: the queen arc. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sharon Oard Warner advises you to find the ending before you return to the beginning. Jane Friedman

Yuvi Zalkow encourages you to expose your mess. Sarah Penner considers women’s empowerment in fiction from a bookseller’s perspective. Later in the week, Liza Nash Taylor declares, there will be worms. Writer Unboxed

Jill Bearup considers boob armor: four things you need to know.

James Scott Bell wants you to turn envy into energy. Later in the week, Becca Puglisi shares eleven techniques for transforming clichéd phrasings. Writers Helping Writers

Jeanette the Writer lists eight essential edits for your novel. Later in the week, Emily R. King wants you to find your voice. Then, Ann McCallum Staats shares five hands-on research techniques for spot-on writing. DIY MFA

Shaelin looks at Deus Ex Machina: what it is, why it happens, and how to fix it. Reedsy

Janice Hardy points out six places infodumps like to hide in your novel. Fiction University

Then, Shaelin explains how to write a cliff-hanger that keeps readers turning pages. Reedsy

Janice Hardy asks, does you novel have a problem? (It should.) Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle: Space Sweepers shows us what excellent messaging is. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five common story fragmentations and how to consolidate them. Mythcreants

Emily Zarka examines the Taotie: the mystery of Chinese mythology’s famous glutton. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Nina Munteanu: the semicolon is dead; long live the semicolon.

Harry Potter isn’t a good guy. The Take

Cassandra Drudi encourages you to listen to Waubgeshig Rice and Jennifer David’s new podcast, Storykeepers, an audio book club on Indigenous literature. Quill & Quire

Kyle Muzyka interviews Richard Van Camp on storytelling and its power to combat loneliness. CBC’s Unreserved

John Dickerson interviews Colson Whitehead, the only fiction writer to win Pulitzer Prizes for consecutive works. 60 Minutes

Guy Kawasaki interviews Luvvie Ajayi Jones for the Remarkable People Podcast.

Gabriel Weisz Carrington explains how his mother, Leonora Carrington, used tarot to reach self-enlightenment. Literary Hub

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 4-10, 2020

Now that we’ve entered month seven of the pandemic, we have to balance self-care with medical compliance. Be kind to yourself and nurture your creativity with some informal writerly learnings.

Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance. Get your flu shot as soon as you can. Sacrifice now (and really, it’s not that much of a sacrifice) will mean that fewer people have to contract covid-19 and fewer people have to die from it. Compliance is not a violation of your rights. It is respect for your fellow human beings.

Princess Weekes critiques Antebellum and movies about slavery in general. Melina Pendulum

Abigail K. Perry does another Story Grid scene analysis: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Erin Tyler shares five tips for writing about family dynamics. DIY MFA

Joanna Penn interviews K.M. Weiland about outlining your novel and filling the well. The Creative Penn

Over on Helping Writers Become Authors, K.M. points out the link between your story’s first and third plot points.

Jenna Moreci shares her top ten tips for killing off characters.

Janice Hardy shows you what makes a good beginning (if you’re struggling with yours). Then, she explains what makes a good middle (beware of getting stuck in the mud). Fiction University

Leslie Vedder shares three tips for cutting your word count (without giving your whole story the axe). Jane Friedman

If you’re not sure about NaNoWriMo, Shaelin looks at the pros and cons. Reedsy

Therese Walsh: the edge of now, and its gift for writers. Then, Donald Maass discusses timeless endings. Kathryn Craft lists five ways paragraphing supports story. Writer Unboxed

The girly girl trope, explained. The Take

Chris Winkle lists five signs your story is classist. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes the Star Trek series finales, from worst to best. Mythcreants

Jill Bearup explains why a corset stopping a knife strike (ala Enola Holmes) is plausible.

Words with lost meanings (AKA that word you keep using. I don’t think is means what you think it means). Merriam-Webster

Petra Mayer: amidst global troubles, the MacArthur “Genius” Grant winners provoke and inspire, including N.K. Jemisin, Jacqueline Woodson, and Christina Rivera Garza. NPR

Emma Reynolds reports that the 2020 Nobel Prize for literature awarded to Louise Glück. CNN

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

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

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 15-21, 2019

It’s Christmas Eve! Time to unwrap your package of informal writerly learnings.

books-wrapped

Erika Liodice suggests a new approach for the New Year: un-resolutions. Vaughn Roycroft: the hygge writer. Dave King goes in search of the story beyond the story. Writer Unboxed

Barbara Linn Probst suggests some visual-spatial tools for mapping—and enhancing—you story. John Peragine: the most difficult conversation for writers. Laura Drake recommends using comparison for power. Writers in the Storm

Is it possible to write an original story? Reedsy

K.M. Weiland shows you how to explore theme through your secondary characters: six important questions to ask. Helping Writers Become Authors

Lucy V. Hay shows you three steps to writing diverse characters. Angela Ackerman wants you to build a roadmap to the author future you want. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci goes over the pros and cons of past and present tense.

Jeanette the Writer answers an editorial question: how do I use italics? Manuela Williams shares five ways to build your author brand when you’re super busy. DIY MFA

Jami Gold explains how to write a strong resolution.

Chris Winkle: agency is what that sexy lamp is missing. Then Oren Ashkenazi suggests eight holiday presents for the fictional character in your life. Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer: should you use e-mail or email? Writer’s Digest

Neil Gaiman on the Tim Ferris show.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you take away something you need for your current work in progress.

Until next time, be well, my writerly friends … and to all, a good night!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 15-21, 2019

Here we are, officially in the fall. Take the time to enjoy the turning leaves and the delicious smells of the season. And, of course, spoil yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Vaughn Roycroft is using theme to leverage revision. Julie Carrick Dalton hopes no one will notice. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland critiques another brave writer to demonstrate ten ways to write excellent dialogue. Helping Writers Become Authors

Susan de Freitas points out three things you won’t learn from an MFA program. Jane Friedman

Joanna Penn interviews James Scott Bell about writing unforgettable endings. Then, Harrison Demchick offers you four ideas to help authors revise a first draft. The Creative Penn

Chris Winkle returns with the fourth aspect of goal-oriented storytelling: satisfaction. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci offers her top ten tips on character arcs.

Nathan Bransford offers six ways to build intimacy between characters. Later in the week, he asks, are you creating a mystery, or are you just being vague?

Jenn Walton shares three ways to find inspiration at a writing conference (or any work event). DIY MFA

Jenny Hansen wants you to find and share your story’s theme. Writers in the Storm

Chuck Wendig explains how to be a professional author and not die screaming and starving in a lightless abyss. Terribleminds

Jami Gold helps you figure out how to build your story with chapters, scenes, or both. Then, Kris Kennedy returns with part four of her avoid infodumping by making backstory essential series.

Bunny discusses choosing a follow-up strategy for a popular story. Then, Oren Ashkenazi shares five ways to handle parents without killing them. Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer advises writers regarding spacing between sentences. Writer’s Digest

Daniel Ross Goodman shows us the haunting magic of Maurice Sendak. National Review

Thank you for visiting. I hope you found something you need to move your work in progress forward.

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 16-22, 2019

A nice, plump bunch of juicy informal writerly learnings. Yes. I have fresh strawberries on the brain. I drool watching them ripen in the garden!

Anthea Lawson Sharp (who writes romance as Anthea Lawson and Fantasy as Anthea Sharp) talks about the craft of short fiction. Later in the week, Margie Lawson writes about the power of silence on the page. Writers in the Storm

Vaughn Roycroft shares a father’s legacy. Sonja Yoerg: writing characters with personality using Myers-Briggs. Erika Liodice asks, are you a student? Resounding YES here 🙂 Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland makes the final instalment in her Dos and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel series: five ways to earn your audience’s loyalty. Helping Writers Become Authors

Julia Roberts says, writer’s block is a gift (and explains why). Then, H.R. D’Costa shares five ways to ensure readers don’t abandon your book. Jane Friedman

Lisa Lowe Stauffer stops by Fiction University. Jamie Fraser eats an apple: using objects to inject character and world building into dialogue. Later in the week, Janice Hardy explains what setup in a novel actually means and then follows that up with four steps to establish the beginning of your novel.

Chris Winkle makes the next instalment in her goal-oriented storytelling series: tension. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci offers her definitions of active and passive characters and her tips for writing active characters.

Interestingly, Alexa Donne also expounds on character agency and growth. A theme?

Nathan Bransford explains how to work with a literary agent on edits.

Emily Wenstrom advises what to do when your social media growth stagnates. Here’s my latest speculations column: what psychology and neuroscience contribute to your stories. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle extracts some lessons from the writing of The Name of the Wind. Then, Oren Ashkenazi considers building democracy in your fantasy world. Mythcreants

Tale Foundry introduces us to eight of Sir Terry Pratchett’s clever(est) characters.

Roz Morris shares the “under-arrest” test for ensuring a satisfying ending. Nail Your Novel

CD Covington thinks the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is good fiction but bad science. Because language. Tor.com

Lynn Neary and Patrick Jarenwattananon celebrate Joy Harjo’s appointment as the first Native American US poet laureate. NPR

That should be enough to see you through until Thursday when I have a tidy batch of thoughty for you 🙂

Until then, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

CanWrite! 2014: How to be your own editor with Farzana Doctor June 19

Farzana DoctorThat’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.

Revision checklist:

  • 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.