Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 12-18, 2020

Black Lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. I believe this more than ever. I’m not going to stop putting this important message out there until it’s true.

Regardless of whether your area of the world has never closed, is reopening, or is still under some degree of lockdown, please, for the love of all you hold dear, wear a mask.

As for schools, I sincerely believe the safest way forward is to keep all classes virtual. I know this isn’t a popular stance, but we know how quickly a common cold, or the flu proliferates in a classroom. And this is covid. We still don’t know the long-term effects of this virus.

I also know that virtual learning presents its own challenges. This will require a sea change for parents, teachers, schoolboards, employers, and governments and I think leaving these important discussions to this late date was naïve on the part of many. Ignoring the issue is not going to make it go away.

Having said that, Sudbury hasn’t had any new cases reported since about June 22 or so. We’ve only had 67 conformed cases and two deaths. It might be more reasonable to consider modified, in-person classes here, but I’d like to wait on the possible impact of phase three of reopening before we go there. Those numbers have yet to be publicized.

Now, onto the informal writerly learnings!

Kris Maze shares seven unstoppable YA plot ideas to make your novel fabulous. Barbara Linn Probst is editing for theme: search and employ. Writers in the Storm

Elizabeth A. Harvey explores a writer’s sense of place: where I ought to be. Jim Dempsey is writing and napping. Sophie Masson shares what she’s learned about presenting online workshops. Then, Juliet Marillier tells a tale about finding resilience: a dog story. Writer Unboxed

Gender and Jurassic Park. Cold Crash Pictures

Janice Hardy explains some story rulez: the two things every novel needs to do. Later in the week, Angela Ackerman stopps by: how emotional wounds can steer a character’s job choice. Fiction University

The female friendship revolution. The Take

Peter von Stackelberg shares an intuitive four-step process for creating vibrant scene structure. Helping Writers Become Authors

Andrew Noakes offers six principles for writing historical fiction. Jane Friedman

Lindsay Ellis looks at Tolkien’s constructed languages. It’s Lit | PBS Storied

Leanne Sowul wants you to commit to self-education about racism and anti-racism. And here’s my latest Speculations: ten Black science fiction and fantasy authors to read now. Then, Gabriela interviews Django Wexler: using fantasy to “literalize” the metaphor. DIY MFA

Chris Winkle explains why storytellers fail at grimdark and how to fix it. Then Bunny and Oren Ashkenazi team up: five reasons your story shouldn’t deny that it’s a story. Mythcreants

Deborah Ahenkora is slaying the dragons of hate with words. CBC Books

Aya de Léon: crime fiction is complicit in police violence, but it’s not too late to change. Electric Literature

Jeana Jorgensen describes what happens when fairyland is not for you: on escapism, fantasy, and survival. The Wrangler

Paula Findlen explores Petrarch’s plague: love, death, and friendship in a time of pandemic. The Public Domain Review

Thanks for visiting, and I hope that you found something to support your current work in progress (whatever stage it’s in).

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

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 27-Sept 2, 2017

Here are your informal writerly learnings for the week 🙂

Kathryn Craft offers four tips for translating critique-speak 🙂 Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy visits Writers in the Storm: six ways your setting can create conflict.

Julia Monroe Martin shares seven things she learned from wrecking her novel. Writer Unboxed

Tracy Hahn-Burkett gives a primer in outlining for pantsers. Writer Unboxed

James Scott Bell offers some tips on how to weave backstory into frontstory. Writer Unboxed

Steven James talks about telling the truth in fiction. Writer Unboxed

Natalia Sylvester explains how white writers can be better allies to writers of colour. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt compares authentic female characters to Hollywood’s passion for gender-swaps. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shows us seven ways to write thematically-pertinent antagonists. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate explains why doubt is the key to flat character arcs.

Janice Hardy stops by Writers Helping Writers: why characters need choices in fiction.

Sara Letourneau continues her series on developing themes in your stories with part 12: the setting. DIY MFA

Ghenet Myrthil: five lessons I learned writing my first middle grade novel. DIY MFA

Tamara Linden presents five myths to plunder for ideas and inspiration. DIY MFA

Jeff Lyons guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog: don’t believe these writing myths, part 1.

What psychology says about the first page of your novel. Tamar Sloan for The Write Life.

Chris Winkle: when dark and gritty is just exploitation. Mythcreants

More Wordstock 2017 news from The Sudbury Star.

Peter Robb interviews Kate Heartfield for Artsfile.

Gear Bear says that in the genre’s new “golden age,” science fiction has won the war. Geekwire podcast.

Tolkien’s plant passion moves botanist to write Flora of Middle-Earth. David Fuchs for NPR.

Ursula K. Le Guin: on power, oppression, and freedom. Vox Populi

Robin Kirk explores epic fantasy and breaking the rules of infrastructure in the interest of speed. Tor.com

I hope you gleaned some writerly goodness from this curation.

Be well until Thursday, my friends!

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, August 30-September 5, 2015

W00t! This past week was all about the writerly goodness!

K.M. Weiland explains how to write a sequel that’s even better than the first book.

Are your plot and theme working together? Helping writers become authors.

Katie gives us a virtual tour of her writing space.

Why you should look into the psychology of writing and the cognitive science of the perfect writing routine. Brainpickings.

In the wake of his post on the mistakes of inexperienced writers, Chuck Wendig wrote on the subject of your discouragement.

How to be a successful writer: stop comparing yourself to everyone else. The Write Life.

Vaughan Roycroft explored how to rekindle your motivation on Writer Unboxed.

Then, Kristan Hoffman wrote about getting over the hump. Writer Unboxed.

Gabriela Pereira shares her mindfulness manifesto on the DIYMFA podcast.

Mike Swift writes about the singularity of voice for Writer Unboxed.

Joanna Penn points out five problems you should avoid in your first novel.

Chris Winkle lists 44 words to seek and destroy in your draft. Mythcreants.

Ginger Moran shares the four S’s of sustained creativity on Tim Grahl’s blog.

Steven Pressfield writes about resistance and hooks. In this context, hooks refer to the provocative comments readers make for and against you and/or your book.

Christine Frazier deconstructs back cover copy to help you writer your blurb. The Better Novel Project.

Bonnie Randall offers her book signing cheat sheet to those who wish to stay sane while everyone ignores them. Janice Hardy’s Fiction University.

Agent Carly Watters offers writing diversity campaigns, resources, terms, and tells you how to read between your lines.

Writers talk about the complexity of race. The Guardian.

Neil Gaiman: my parents didn’t have any . . . rules about what I couldn’t read. The Guardian.

J.R.R. Tolkien expounds on fairy tales, language, the psychology of fantasy, and why there’s no such thing as writing for children. Brainpickings.

The fun stuff: brain fart, bants, and fur baby added to the Oxford online dictionary. Writers Write.

Quirk Books found these ten music videos based on literature.

I hope something here helps to support your creative life.

I’ll be back on Thursday with a teeny tiny bit of thoughty.

See you then!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, August 16-22, 2015

Blissfully back to normal!

And Mom’s surgery went wonderfully, thanks.

Now, on to the Writerly Goodness:

Are you protagonist and your main character the same person? K.M. Weiland explains how the answer could transform your story.

The Pixar way to think about conflict in your story. Katie’s weekly vlog.

Chuck Wendig shares his writing process and invites us to share ours. Terribleminds.

He also smells our rookie moves . . . and tells us how we can avoid them.

Marcy Kennedy guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog on the topic of internal dialogue and three story problems it can help us address.

How to become a bestselling, full-time novelist—it’s so easy! Dan Blank takes a facetious look at becoming an overnight success as an author on Writer Unboxed.

Stephen Kings asks, can a novelist be too productive? The New York Times.

Jeff Bollow’s how to write FAST. By the way, that’s an acronym. It’s not about speed or productivity.

Leta Blake highlights diversity in the LGBTQ community for Writer Unboxed.

The Rabbit Box: a strange and wonderful storybook for grownups. Brainpickings.

Neil Gaiman explains why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming. The Guardian.

Dylan Landis shares her experience with grief and how it affected her. The New York Times.

The BBC talks to Verlyn Flieger, who helped to bring J.R.R. Tolkein’s Kullervo to print.

R.F. Foster on Yeats, faeries, and the Irish occult tradition:

Flavorwire shares this list of 50 books for 50 classes—a curriculum on your bookshelf.

Who won the Hugos and why it matters. Wired.

Noah Berlatsky chimes in with this take on women authors in SF and the Hugo controversy for Playboy.

Gary K. Wolfe writes about it in the Chicago Tribune, as well.

Takeaway of the week: It doesn’t matter whether your write fast or slow, full-time or part-time, only that you write. Don’t go comparing your work or process to anyone else’s. You are you and your novel is something only you could have created. Value yourself and your time.

So get writing.

And we’ll see you in two days.

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, August 9-15, 2015

Four methods to invigorate your prose with surprising sentences. K.M. Weiland.

Moar Katie: How not to waste your story setting’s full potential.

The love that dare not appear in print. David Corbett for Writer Unboxed.

The socially awkward writer. Sarah Callender for Writer Unboxed.

Roz Morris guest posts for Romance University on what you need to do for your NaNoWriMo preparation.

Harry Connolly shares what keeps him writing full time. Jim C. Hines.

The five things productive writers do differently. Joe Bunting guests posts on Tim Grahl’s blog.

Kristen Lamb explains what went wrong with True Detective, season 2.

To the lab! Veronica Sicoe writes about creating alien species in three steps.

Joanna Penn and Guy Windsor discuss the difficulties of writing good sword fights.

Just call her our lady of dark grace. Silvia Moreno-Garcia responds to commenters who call her a “little bitch” for daring to publish an anthology of Lovecraftian tales written by women.

Why do people say that the novel is dead? The New York Times.

Deborah Malcom was inspired by Neil Gaiman to create Meh, her wordless picture book that helps kids understand mental health issues. The Big Issue.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s first fantasy story to be published. Aaaannd, it’s from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic poem. The Guardian.

Hear Shakespeare’s plays in Renaissance English. Open Culture.

Cannabis found in Shakespeare’s pipes (!). As a friend said, this explains The Tempest! The Telegraph.

Russell Smith offers six tips to help you write and publish your first novel. The Globe and Mail.

Five Room writers talk about their favourite writing tools.

Being a medieval librarian was hard work. Medieval books.

New images from the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Entertainment Weekly.

More Tipsday coming up next week, but in the meantime, swing back for some thoughty on Thursday 😉

Tipsday

I failed the test

Back in December, Robert J. Sawyer shared this: http://www.rinkworks.com/fnovel/

Rinkworks warns the following:

Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this “great, original fantasy” is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we’re sick of it, so we’ve compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering “yes” to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once.

The problem is … I answered yes more than once.

Specifically:

4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme bad guy?

Well, it’s about three young characters, two who “come of age” and one who just figures out what his damage is, spanks his inner moppet and gets on with it, all three of whom have roles to play in the defeat of the dark god Yllel, and his sourcerous servant Kane.

12. Does “a forgetful wizard” describe any of the characters in your novel?

Yes, Aeldred is dithering and occasionally confused, but he is the exception and considerably younger than most of the magickal movers and shakers in my novel.  Plus, he’s not even close to being a main character.

21. How about “a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage”?

That would be Aislinn, actually and she’s not torn so much between the two peoples as derided and feared by both because she is the first child born of a Tellurin (my version of humans) and an eleph (my version of elves).  She’s actually going to be pivotal in uniting the two peoples.

39. Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?

Actually, all of the above.  I’ve changed the names slightly and given them different origins.  My orcs are called okante and are peaceful tribes-people who generally live in harmony with the Tellurin tribes of the north.  They’re only drawn in as villains because Yllel tricks them into soul-slavery.  My elves, as mentioned above, are called eleph and they come from a different world.  One of my gods tries to do something good, but ends up tearing a hole in the world and sucking half the population of Elphindar into Tellurin before the gap can be closed.  The eleph are not pleased.  Dwarves are called dwergen, and are the children of the elemental Gods of earth and fire.  Rather than halflings, I have gnomes I call dwergini and they are the children of earth and air.  Neither race is terribly differentiated from their fantastic forefathers, but they’re certainly not dour and I try not to make them overtly stereotypical.

Enough of the justification, but I can tell you that I was not a little disconcerted by saying yes even those four times.

Fantasy Forest

Fantasy Forest (Photo credit: ozjimbob)

Then, in January, Author Salon posted this for the benefit of the Fantasy and YA Fantasy peer groups, two of the more active in the AS fold: http://www.authorsalon.com/page/general/fantasytropes/

Again, I shook in my metaphorical boots because my story is fairly littered with orcs, trolls (which I call krean), ogres (the gunden), etc.  Will renaming be sufficient?  It’s not like any of them play a significant role, but they are there in their standard and stereotypical glory.

I started questioning the value of my novel in a serious and neurotic way.  Then I sat back and tried to put things into perspective.  My story is not “about” any of these tropes, save perhaps for my protagonists coming of age, finding power, and defeating the big bad.  Renaming will likely be sufficient in most cases.  I don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water.

I almost failed another one

AS says it wants thick-skinned writers.  Though I do tend to take some criticism more to heart, or react poorly to some of their advice (largely because I think that it’s being posted because someone has looked at my work and though poorly of it, even though I “know” I’m not that important to anyone), I’m learning to understand being thick-skinned in the same way I understand being courageous.  Being brave doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid; being brave means that you act despite your fear and try not to let it limit you.  I’m taking the same, long view of being thick-skinned.  It doesn’t mean that my confidence isn’t shaken; it means that even when it is, I get my shit together and soldier on.

Then Rachelle Gardner posted this in March:

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2012/03/do-you-have-a-thick-skin/

It’s good to know that agents feel the same way us writers do sometimes 🙂

Writing well is the best revenge 🙂

Then I came across a very helpful blog post:

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/writing-rules-10-experts-take-on-the-writers-rulebook?et_mid=538945&rid=3085641

I’ve always aspired to be transgressive; sometimes in a good way, and sometimes not so much.  I think ultimately, I have to focus on writing the best novel I can, so that when I do break the rules, I’ll be forgiven.  It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission, right?  It’s such a relief to know that I can write my way out of the corner I seem to be getting scrunched into.

Coming up on Writerly Goodness

In future posts, I want to get a bit into the background of the novel, stuff that won’t necessarily be in it, but all of the window dressing I developed so that my world would work fairly consistently.  Stuff like cosmology, the historical timeline leading up to the novel, religion, the way magic works, my various peoples and their origins (in more detail than above), naming conventions, and some of the unique things about Tellurin.  In other words, I’m going to write about world-building.  Have any interest in that?

What are your feelings about tropes and their use/overuse?  Would you fail Rinkworks’ test?  What about the Author Salon article?  Does it give you pause?

If you liked this post, feel free to use the “like” or sharing buttons below.  Or, you may consider subscribing via email, or RSS feed (there are links below each post, or on right side menu on my home page).

Until next week!